I Slipped and Fell and was Injured in a Store. What Should I Do?

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.

I Slipped and Fell and was Injured in a Store. What Should I Do?

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.

Premises Liability

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.

 

Who’s Liable If I Slip And Fall In A Restaurant?

An evening out should be enjoyable, no matter where you dine. But a slip & fall incident in a restaurant may do more than spoil a nice evening. An injury from an unseen hazard can ruin more than just dinner.

Who’s Liable If I Slip And Fall In A Restaurant?

It Can Happen Anywhere

Slipping and falling in a place like a restaurant is called “premises liability.”

Slips and falls may occur in any number of places. But restaurants are prone to slippery conditions and trip hazards due to the nature of their business. Most restaurants are conscientious of running a clean, safe establishment for employees and customers. But accidents do happen, and they may not be addressed as quickly as they should during a very busy time.

A restaurant owner (or any property owner or manager) has a legal obligation to keep their premises in a safe condition for anyone who visits or works there. They’re required to take care of any dangerous conditions as soon as possible, such as slick floors or icy sidewalks. Should a property owner/manager negligently ignore an unsafe condition, causing a preventable injury, the owner and/or the company can be held liable by the injured party for financial damages.

Partial Fault

If you are found partly at fault for your injuries, you’ll be assigned a percentage of fault, and your settlement can be reduced by that amount.

For instance, if a wet floor caused the unsafe condition that caused your slip, but you missed the warning signs because you were inebriated, you could be assigned a 10% fault for your injuries. A $10,000 settlement will be reduced by 10%, giving you a $9,000 settlement.

However, under West Virginia’s modified comparative fault rule, if you’re found to be more than 50% at fault (such as your inebriation being the reason for your slip and fall), you won’t be allowed to receive any settlement.

Open And Obvious

If you are injured by a hazard that is apparent to anyone who encounters it, but ignore the hazard and proceed anyway, you will not be able to sue under West Virginia’s Open And Obvious Doctrine. A property owner is still liable for a hazard that was unknown or not apparent, but not for something that everyone could clearly see. This prevents owners from being held liable from a patron who disregards his or her own safety and intentionally steps into harm’s way. Under this doctrine, your settlement could be reduced by the modified comparative fault rule, or eliminated altogether.

Documenting And Proving Liability

If you’ve been injured, of course, you should seek medical attention for your injuries. Tell the attending physician what happened, because a slip & fall involves specific types of injuries.

Your smartphone is your friend here–if you are able, take ample photographs of the place where you were injured (or have someone take them for you.) You’ll want to take several, particularly if there are any hazards that aren’t immediately obvious, or any dangerous conditions that were neglected. In addition to the accident scene, take pictures of your injuries as well.

Notify the owner, manager, or tenant immediately. The restaurant likely has a process for reporting accidents and injuries. If you’re asked to fill out a form or a report, get a copy of it for your records.

Keep records of everything involved with your case. This includes medical bills, doctor’s reports, any accident reports, prescriptions, insurance claims and anything else related your slip & fall accident. A file folder or accordion file stores everything in one place and will help keep you from misplacing anything. The file will help when you meet with your attorney.

Statute of Limitations

You have a two-year time frame from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, known as the “statute of limitations.” If you don’t file within the legally allowed two-year period, you’ll lose your rights to file.

If you have insurance, you should file your claim immediately, as soon as you are able. Not all cases will require a lawsuit. If you file after the two-year period, when you can no longer file a lawsuit, you’ll have less leverage with your insurance company. They’ll be more difficult in settlement negotiations, because they know you won’t be able to sue.

Don’t Wait–Call Us Today

The Love Law Firm is West Virginia’s personal injury law firm with many years of experience handling slips and falls. Call us today at (304) 344 5683 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.