What Conditions May Cause A Slip and Fall Accident To Occur?
The best slip and fall cases, from a plaintiff attorney’s perspective, are the ones that cannot be mitigated and are unknown. In extreme cases where the circumstance is unknown, you’d have to ask – was there a condition on the floor such as water, liquid, or some type of granular substance? Something that created a marble effect? Something that caused you to lose traction, stability, or balance? Was the circumstance not readily apparent? Not readily seen? Was the circumstance unknown and unexpected?
A middle ground is when grocery stores use coolers with misters to keep the fruit and vegetables wet. There is some level of moisture that can accumulate on the floor in front of those coolers, so you need to be mindful of that, and that’s why oftentimes they’re labeled. When you look at these situations, you have to determine what does the reasonable person see? What was the expectation of the surface, condition, and ability or agility of the person going through the store? What was the expectation of the business that this is a high egress point or an alleyway? If it’s a situation for a business, are the floor tiles level and flat? Are there mats to wipe your feet when you come in from outside? All those circumstances are going to be assessed. What was the lighting? Were there handrails? What was the accessibility for ramps or ADA compliance? Again, factual circumstances are going to be examined in each and every case.
On the opposite end of the spectrum. When you’re in New Hampshire, and it’s snowing and sleeting, and you slip and fall on the stairs, there’s some expectation that you needed to wear the appropriate footwear. You need to take the appropriate safeguards such as to use sand and salt, use the handrails, and do that delicate shuffle of the feet when you’re walking to and from your car to the business storefront or building. Those cases are very difficult for plaintiff attorneys to try to prosecute and get a recovery. They’re going to ask – What was the level of liability? What was the level of precautions taken by the injured party? In this case, the situation is known and apparent because it was snowing and sleeting. Meanwhile, that does not excuse a business owner or landlord from failing to treat snow and ice to parking lots, stairways and entrances. It is back to factual based assessments and negotiations.
What Are Some Examples Where A Store Owner Would Not Be Held Liable For A Slip And Fall?
A store owner would not be held liable for a slip and fall if the situation involved a reasonable person who was made aware of a problem or condition. For example, if you have water on the floor from the misters in a grocery store in the fruit and vegetable section, and something has fallen and broken, and there’s a cleanup crew taking care of the floor, then it is apparent that the customer should be careful. If they have yellow signs and cones that say that they are washing and waxing the floor, and the person ignores those signs and walks right through the area with the wet floor, they can clearly see that it is not a safe area to walk through. You cannot take advantage of a situation to create your own injury to try to gain a recovery.
How Does The Law Determine If A Store Owner Should Have Known Of A Dangerous Condition On Their Property?
The store owner is going to be held to a standard as to what’s expected and customary in their industry. If you have a department store that has tile inside the store, they should have the appropriate mats in place before a person walks into the store to wipe their feet after coming from outside. It is expected that the tile floor is going to be slippery if it’s raining out and you have patrons coming in. If you have carpeted floors, is the carpet clean? Is the carpet flat? Is it free from wear? Does it have any tears? Does it have any rips that someone could catch a heel or toe in it, or cause someone to twist an ankle? Just because a carpeted floor is not slippery does not mean that there aren’t other types of accidents that can occur.
Thus, from a store property owner’s perspective, they need to assess who their customers are. Where are the points of egress? What’s the likelihood of travel? What measures have been taken to maintain the property throughout the course of the store’s lifetime so that it is safe for the public to come in and enjoy their business?
How Does Comparative Or Contributory Negligence Impact Slip And Fall Injury Cases?
The cases are going to be analyzed under the types of steps that the property owner took to make sure that the business was safe and open to the public. The injured party’s actions are going to be examined. What steps did they take to minimize the damages, mitigate the damages, or what actions did they take to contribute to the damages? If you walk upon a wet floor that doesn’t have a sign, and no one knows the floor is wet well that case is completely different from one that has a gentleman mopping the floor with four or five orange cones present and you choose to walk right through that path ignoring the conditions.
Was somebody taking appropriate actions? Did they have seven or eight items in their arms instead of in a cart and they could not see their feet? Could they see a rip and tear on the carpet? If their vision was obstructed due to their choice or actions, that’s going to be scrutinized. What actions did the shopper take? What action did the member of the public take to safeguard themselves as they became a patron through the store? All of those questions are simultaneously assessed with what actions did the business owner takes to safeguard his premises knowing the public would be on site.
For more information on Slip & Fall Injury Claims In New Hampshire, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (603) 880-1300 today.
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