While big box stores are full of essential goods and some great impulse buys, they are also full of hazards when the store isn’t maintained appropriately.
A puddle from a spilled cup of coffee or a piece of candy left rolling around could send your foot one direction and the rest of your body in another. Suddenly you’ve suffered a painful slip-and-fall injury and like most people, you may not have any idea what to do if you slip and fall in a store.
What to Do If You Slip and Fall in a Store
Businesses want to tell you about their rewards programs and deals of the day, but they might not have mentioned that they bear responsibility for the safety of every visitor.
The law requires them to provide a certain “duty of care” for anyone a property owner or business proprietor invites in. That means that businesses must be diligent to not cause hazards and to fix known hazards in a reasonable amount of time. Under “premises liability” if there’s an obstacle left out by an employee or customer, it needs to be cleaned up or repaired in a reasonable amount of time before you have the chance to come along to take a tumble.
If you are hurt, the owners and operators of that store, gas station, coffee shop, or restaurant can be held accountable for every bill your recovery accumulates and the wages you lose while missing work.
Common Causes of Slip-and-Fall Accidents
That “duty of care” means store owners and operators should remove the hazards they create as quickly as possible. That can include fixing exposed wiring, repairing cracked flooring, and keeping aisles clear of stocking boxes and obtrusive displays.
The store is also responsible for monitoring for safety hazards customers leave about. A broken bottle of peach tea or a smeared piece of fruit on the floor in the produce section must get cleaned and cleared. Water on the bathroom floors must be mopped quickly and hazard signs should be noticeably placed.
Businesses are also responsible for outdoor tripping hazards. A pothole in the parking lot can easily trip someone for a hard landing on pavement. A water-soaked entrance during a rainstorm creates some very slippery spots. A gas station pump can have an oil build-up around it and wind up extremely slick.
Store Slip-and-Fall Common Injuries
A slip commonly sends victims sideways or falling backward. Hips and backs can often take the brunt of an impact. When a victim suffers a break or sprain, their mobility can be severely impaired for weeks, months, or years.
A trip-and-fall generally launches people forward. The natural reaction is for the victim to try to catch themselves by absorbing the impact with their hands or forearms. This can cause breaks in fingers and wrists.
Especially in big stores, traumatic brain injuries are common when a victim’s head collides with a shelf or hard, laminate floor. TBIs can cause temporary or extended cases of amnesia, nausea, seizures, mood swings, and a host of other unpleasant side effects.
What to Do Immediately After a Slip-and-Fall Accident
Store owners and proprietors owe you a “duty of care,” but they generally won’t make it easy for you to collect the support you need after suffering an injury. They’ll likely try to collect evidence that pins the blame for an accident on you. The best defense is to gather your own evidence.
If you’re feeling well enough, try to start building your case in the moments after an accident:
- Call 911 if you are hurt: Let paramedics check out every pain and let them take you to the emergency room if necessary.
- Take photos and video: Collecting photos of the mess or hazard that sent you to the ground is the most important evidence you can get. These dangers will be fixed or repaired soon after your accident and a store may even deny that they existed. Also, show any hazard signs or the lack of signs. If you are unable to gather photos, ask someone with you or a helpful witness to take some photos for you.
- Alert a store representative: A manager will need to make an incident report about what happened for the store’s corporate office. This accident report is strong evidence in your favor. If you don’t feel injured, don’t say that. Just say you’re not sure if you were hurt. Injuries don’t always show up immediately. They may show up after the shock of a fall wears off.
- Talk to witnesses: Witnesses might have seen you fall, or they might just be able to confirm the existence of the hazard. Ask them if they’ll talk about what they saw while you shoot a cellphone video. Get their contact info.
- Request Store Security Surveillance Video: Find out if surveillance video exists. You could secure it, or your slip-and-fall accident attorney can demand access to the footage later.
- See your own doctor: Schedule an appointment with your physician even if you went to the emergency room. Document all injuries suffered in your fall and any pain that arises in the days that follow.
- Contact a Lawyer: You’ll want to transfer all evidence and information to your personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will also conduct further investigation into the circumstances of your accident to build a strong case to prevent a corporation from denying what happened. Your lawyer will warn you not to give representatives for the store any recorded statements. These statements can be used to call your case into question later.
Compensation for Your Injuries
Your slip-and-fall attorney will work on your claim for damages, making sure it includes every hardship you’ve suffered, and ask for financial support for each one. This list may include a few damages you hadn’t thought of.
Your claim will include every hospital bill, surgeon’s fee, and medical cost you’ve collected, and the cost of any care needed in the future. Additionally, you can include missed time from work.
Emotional and physical anguish can also earn compensation. Any depression, anxiety, or just a loss in the enjoyment of life you’ve suffered can earn more in an insurance settlement or a jury verdict. The cost of psychological counseling can also be covered.
Contact a Slip-And-Fall Lawyer Serving Southern California
A scary fall on a shopping trip, on a dinner out, or while pumping gas will leave you feeling physically vulnerable, but you may not realize how financially vulnerable you’ll also be. You could suffer a slip-and-fall injury and spend the next months or years in and out of hospitals, the operating room, and rehabilitation clinics. That medical care will cost you many thousands of dollars and can lead to financial ruin if those who caused your accident aren’t held responsible.
Contact Personal Injury Attorney Allen Vaysberg and the Law Offices of Steers & Associates for a free, no-obligation consultation of your case. We are a family-owned law firm, and we treat victims and their families the way we’d want to be treated after going through such a traumatic event.
Allen Vaysberg practices personal injury law and works tirelessly to defeat the tactics of insurance companies and large corporations who try to deny justice and fair compensation to injured people.