Most people do their shopping without any incident. But wet or wintry weather conditions can make any shopping trip a little more adventurous. Wet floors, ice, snow, and cracked floors or sidewalks add obstacles to an already busy day. An incident where you slip in a retail establishment can lead to serious injuries if there are dangerous conditions.
Many slip and falls lead to a little bruising, including the ego. But broken bones, lacerations, concussions, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries can also come from a slip and fall accident.
A slip and fall injury in a retail store comes under West Virginia’s premises liability laws. Under premises liability, the store’s owner, manager, and employees have a duty to exercise reasonable care to keep the place safe for anyone who is an “invitee.” This includes customers, employees, vendors and anyone else on the property for any legal reason. The law also concerns when a manager, owner or employee knew about the unsafe condition and had an opportunity to do something about it. Negligence is involved when someone knew about the problem but failed to remedy it.
Negligence of this duty of care can lead to conditions that can lead to conditions such as:
- Wet or slick floors
- Loose or missing handrails on stairs
- Uneven or loose steps
- Trip hazards
- Inadequate security and dark walkways
- Cracked or broken sidewalks
- Holes not easily visible
- Protruding objects in concrete
Any kind of condition that can cause a slip and fall may be negligence if someone failed to correct the condition. However, Virginia’s “open and obvious” doctrine excludes something that should have been apparent to anyone, such as signs warning off wet floors or hazardous areas where non-employees should not be walking.
After An Accident
Of course, you should immediately seek medical assistance, even if you don’t think you’re injured. Some injuries, such as soft tissue damage, may not show up immediately. If you plan to file a claim, you’ll also need medical records to back up your claim of injuries.
Keeping written timeline documentation, started right after your accident, is also helpful to keep all the details in one place.
If you have any damaged property, such as a broken watch, keep it somewhere safe for evidence later.
Use your phone’s camera to take pictures of the accident scene, and store them in Google Drive, Dropbox or another safe place. Pictures will come in handy when you speak with your attorney.
Get names and contact information from any witnesses who saw the accident.
Since video surveillance is very common in businesses, you (or your lawyer) should immediately ask the business to preserve any video taken of your accident. Many stores use video to disprove frivolous injury claims but may delete the video if they know you’re planning to file a claim. Make sure this evidence is preserved in the event you’re required to head to court.
Keep track of all your expenses, including medical expenses, lost wages and other out-of-pocket costs related to your accident.
Talk to an experienced West Virginia slip and fall personal injury attorney before speaking to anyone with any insurance company. You may unwittingly accept an unsuitable settlement, or admit fault without realizing it.
Caveat: Comparative Negligence
One defense against a slip and fall that a defendant may have is that you were at fault, or partly at fault, for your injuries. Known as “comparative negligence,” it means that you share in the responsibility for your injuries. If you’re assigned a percentage of fault in court, any settlement can be reduced by that percentage.
For instance, if you were talking on your phone and didn’t pay attention to the caution signs that warned everyone about a water spill, or walked into an employee-only area and were injured, you may be held partly responsible. If your settlement is $5,000, and the court finds that 15% is your fault, your settlement becomes $4,250.
Another factor is whether or not you were on the property legally. If you were injured while trespassing, breaking in, or otherwise should not have been there, you won’t be able to collect for your injuries.
Injured In A Slip & Fall? Call Us
The Love Law Firm is Charleston, West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with extensive experience handling slips & falls and premises liability cases. Call us today at 304-344-5683 or contact us online and schedule your free consultation. There’s no fee until we win your case, and our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t pay unless we win your case.