There seem to be stories on the news all of the time about people who slip and fall in supermarkets and are able to sue for their medical costs. Because these stories are so highly publicized, it might seem like winning a slip and fall case against a supermarket is rather simple. You slip and are injured, hire a lawyer, and get your medical costs covered. However, the process is really not that easy or straightforward. Proving that a supermarket is liable for your slip and fall accident is complicated, and for every case that makes it into the news, there are many other cases in which the individual who fell is held liable for his or her own injuries.
How do you know whether or not the supermarket will be held liable for your injuries?
To win any personal injury case, whether a car accident case or a slip and fall case, you and your lawyer must prove that the party you are suing acted negligently, and that this negligence directly led to your injuries. In the case of supermarket injuries, establishing negligence requires that you demonstrate that the supermarket did not take reasonable action to protect its customers from foreseeable injuries. In some cases, slip and fall accidents are caused by failure to take action to protect customers, but in other cases, a judge may determine that they are caused by unforeseen circumstances. If the supermarket had no way of knowing a hazard existed, they're not likely to be held liable.
What are some examples of cases in which a supermarket would be held liable for slip and fall injuries?
If supermarket employees knew there was a spill in an aisle but failed to do anything about it, then the store could be held liable. The store is also likely to be held liable if its policies make it difficult or impossible for employees to notice and clean up spills in a timely manner. For example, if employees only walk the the floors once an hour, this leaves a lot of time for a spill to sit there and potentially cause an injury. A judge may rule that the floor surveillance policies were inadequate and contributed to the injury, thus naming the store liable.
What are some examples of cases in which an individual would be held responsible for his or her own injuries?
If you stumble and fall, but there is no evidence of any liquid or foreign material on the floor, then you'll have a hard time winning a personal injury case against the supermarket. This is one reason why its so important to take pictures and gather contact information from witnesses after a slip and fall accident. If you cannot prove that something on the floor contributed to the fall, you'll have a hard time winning your case.
You're also unlikely to win a case if the supermarket did take action to prevent injuries, but your actions circumvented those measures. For example, if you were headed to aisle 5 to buy pineapple and an employee at the entrance to the aisle said to you, "Can you wait a minute, please, this aisle is closed for a spill cleanup," but you pushed past the employee anyways, the supermarket is unlikely to be named liable.
If you slip and fall in the supermarket and believe the supermarket's negligence contributed to your injury, begin collecting evidence as soon as possible. The more evidence you have, the easier time you'll have building a case. Take pictures of the area where the fall happened, and make sure they clearly show the liquid or object that caused you to slip. Document the extent of your injuries, and save all medical receipts and reports. Ask people who may have seen the fall for their contact information, so you can call them as witnesses later on. Finally, bring your evidence to a personal injury attorney for more information. He or she will know the intricacies of supermarket cases, and will thus be able to build as strong a case as possible against the store.