Store or Business Owner Liability in Slip and Fall Cases

January 19, 2021
Store or Business Owner Liability in Slip and Fall Cases

If you slip and fall on a store premises, how would you know if you have a potential claim or a lawsuit? And against whom will the claim be? The numerous theories of premises liability for slip and fall accidents in stores and companies will be discussed in this article.

Negligence

A store or business is responsible for a slip and fall accident on its premises only if

  • There was negligence in the business or store, and
  • This negligence was the cause of your incident.

It doesn't mean that someone would be considered negligent simply because you fall in someone's shop. There had to be an unsafe situation. In addition, in order to show that the defendant was negligent, you should prove that he knew or could have reasonably known of that unsafe situation. For example they should put a warning sign on the floor in case it is wet after cleaning, or there was some spillage from a product, making it unsafe to walk on.

Who Can You Sue?

A very critical question in the case of store liability is, who can you sue? This is also based on the extent of the negligence being claimed. Generally, if the owner of the store owns the property, the store owner will usually be the only possible defendant. But often owners of stores lease their premises, so you might even have a claim against the landlord/owner of the property.

Whom to Sue the Property Owner or the Store Owner?

If you fall due to some structural problem with the property, your case will possibly be against the landlord/owner of the property. However, if you slip because of what the owner of the store/tenant has done (or has not done), then the claim will be against the owner of the store. For instance, a lawsuit against a store owner would be slipping on a floor that the employee of the store owner had just waxed, and there were warning signs to alert the danger to shoppers. A lawsuit against the owner of a property would be if there was a crack or raised tile in the flooring of the store. 

Significant Concerns in the Case of Slip and Fall

Note that in order to win a slip and fall lawsuit, there must be negligence. The most severe negligence problems that occur in a slippery floor case are usually the following:   

  • Was the floor extremely slippery?
  • If the floor was made slippery by a foreign material, how long had the substance been on the floor until you slipped?
  • Was there a warning about the slippery state of the floor?
  • Did you notice the floor was slippery before you slipped?
  • Did the owner or tenant of the store know — or should they fairly have realized — that the floor was unreasonably slippery?

Why Was the Floor Slippery?

To have a fair chance of winning a slippery floor lawsuit, before you leave the property after your accident, you need to know why the floor was slippery. It would be very hard to win your case if you wouldn't know what you slipped on or why the floor was slippery.

If you tell the store manager immediately after the accident, for instance, that you don't know why you slipped, the jury is very unwilling to believe you two years later when you want to testify on what the slippery situation was after speaking with your lawyer.

Some substances that can make a floor slippery are :

  • Ice, water, or snow
  • Oil, grease, or any other type of lubrication
  • A slippery foreign item, like a banana peel or other food waste, floor polish or  wax 

You can look around on the floor, on your shoes, and on your dress — to see any hints as to why you may have slipped.

How Long Was The Substance On The Floor?

You must prove that the defendant knew or could reasonably have known that the floor was extremely slippery in order to win a slippery floor case. The longer the slippery condition has been around, the more likely it is that you will show that the defendant knew about it or should have known about it—and fix the problem. A typical example is the banana peel.

If a supermarket shopper drops a banana peel on the floor and you trip on it 20 seconds later, the supermarket is not liable. For the supermarket to have heard about the slippery situation, twenty seconds is not long enough. But if the banana peel had been around for half an hour, you could have a lawsuit against the supermarket owner/tenant.

Was there a Slippery Condition Warning?

Slippery conditions are inevitable sometimes. A store owner, for instance, may frequently wax the floors. That is something fair to do. The floor wax is slippery, however. So the requirement of "reasonableness" – which controls most cases of negligence – will require that the floor waxes cord off the floor area or at the very least have a slippery floor warning. Putting up an alert does not automatically relieve the defendant of liability, but it is some evidence of lack of negligence. Failure to warn of a slippery situation on the floor, on the other hand, is a good proof of negligence.


If you have more questions about premises liability in Slip and fall cases, contact the Personal Injury Attorney, New Haven, Connecticut.


All people are equal before the law. A good attorney.