Floors get wet all the time, and people slip on them all the time. When that happens, is the store owner always liable? Just about any store can have a wet floor hazard. Grocery stores are notorious for spilled liquids and pieces of fruit on the floor. Even a spilled cup of coffee in a waiting room can cause a slip and fall. Does this mean that the owner has to pay for every one of them?
The truth is it’s not always the owner’s fault. In some cases, the weather might have caused the wet floor, or some kid might have pulled the pyramid of tomatoes on the floor. We all know that we need to be careful when walking in public, especially on those slick supermarket floors.
Proof in Slip and Fall Accidents
Wet floor accidents are common occurrences in both public and private facilities. But like all accidents, before someone can collect against the owner, they have to prove that person was negligent. While this is often simple in a case where someone runs a red light, it’s not so easy when it’s something like a screw loose on a handrail.
To prove a slip and fall accident was caused by the negligence of the premise’s owner, the injured person must show one of these three conditions:
- That the owner knew of the dangerous condition and did nothing to fix it.
- In these cases, the owner didn’t cause the condition but know of it and did nothing. It’s essential that the injured person prove that the owner was given notice of the condition but didn’t clean or fix it in a reasonably timely manner.
- That the owner should have known a dangerous condition existed and didn’t take steps to fix the condition.
- When no one gives the owner of the premises notice, it is still incumbent on the owner to look out for dangerous conditions. For example, if the owner didn’t routinely check for spills and hazards in a grocery store, then when one occurred and the owner never knew, then he or she could be held liable for injuries.
- That the owner negligently created the dangerous condition.
- Sometimes the owner might have spilled the substance or negligently repaired a step on a stairway, and if this spill or negligent repair caused the injury, then the owner might be liable.
The legal standard in civil case is the level of proof needed to make a successful claim. In personal injury claims, the injured must show that the owner didn’t live up to their duty to keep others on their property safe. To determine that, the law looks at what a reasonable owner would do under the same conditions.
This means that a reasonable shop owner wouldn’t spill soap on the entrance floor and then just leave it. Or that a reasonable mall owner wouldn’t ignore a notice that light fixture in the middle of the mall was dangling and might fall and hurt someone.
Common Types of Wet Floor Slip and Falls
The grocery store is the most common and obvious, but there are circumstances where wet or slippery floors can cause an accident. Some of them are:
- Store Entranceways: Some stores don’t have products that cause a wet floor, but floors can become wet when it’s raining outside and water gets tracked in.
- Eating Areas: Sometimes the customers themselves can make the floor slippery. In restaurants and food courts, for example, people can spill while eating and present a hazard for others.
- Department Stores: We often don’t think of department stores as a risk for slippery floors. But leaks in ceilings, water pipes, fire control systems and spilled liquid from customers can present risks.
- Doctors/Professionals Waiting Areas: Waiting rooms often have self-serve coffee or a water cooler, and this can lead to spills and slippery floors.
- Subway and Train Stations: Mass transit stations can have we floors from rain, melting snow or ice, spilled drinks or just about anything that makes the floor slippery.
If any of these are caused by the negligence of the owner or manager of the premises where the wet floor accident occurred, then the victim would have a claim for injuries.
Defenses to a Wet Floor Slip and Fall Claim
The reason it is so difficult to prosecute a slip and fall case, is because of the proof needed. To show that they don’t have liability when a someone slips on their floor, the owner can prove:
- That they weren’t aware of the wet floor, and the slip happened right after the spill not giving the owner reasonable time to clean it up.
- Or that they knew the spill had occurred, and they were on their way in a reasonable time to clean it up and the accident happened, or
- The owner (or their employee) spilled the liquid and was taking reasonable steps to clean it up.
Contact a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall, you need to talk to someone who has experience in making successful claims. You need a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Attorney. Someone who is going to be on your side and can make the system work for you. The insurance companies and store owners go through these claims all the time, and they are experienced at finding ways to pay you little or nothing.
At The Pearce Law Firm, P.C., we’ve handled many slip and fall cases. Insurance companies routinely deal with these cases, but it’s possible that this is your first—and hopefully only—one. They know how to pay you as little as possible or none at all and will often try to blame you for your injuries.
Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation after any type of accident which resulted in a serious injury.