Slipping and falling in a store is scary. It can also be costly, both physically and financially. Unfortunately, slips and falls at stores and elsewhere that result in serious harm and require medical treatment happen far too often. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, a non-profit organization with the mission of preventing slips, trips, and falls through education, research, and standards development, slips and falls account for more than 1 million emergency room visits every year. These fall accidents result in fractures, head trauma, and other debilitating injuries. While people 65-plus are most likely to be seriously injured, anyone of any age who slips and falls on a store’s hard floors can be badly hurt.
Prevention of Accidents in Stores is Sometimes Overlooked
You shouldn’t have to worry about going out to get groceries or other items and ending up in the hospital because of a spill on the floor or a box carelessly left in an aisle. It’s the duty of store owners to take reasonable care to make their businesses safe for customers. But when accident prevention is overlooked and a store doesn’t take proper safety steps to prevent slips and falls, they may be found liable if a customer decides to take legal action to get compensation for their injuries. But there are steps stores can and should take to prevent customers from falling and getting hurt.
How Stores Can Prevent Customers from Falling
By doing these simple things, stores can help prevent customers from falling and help protect themselves from legal claims:
- Regularly monitor floors for spills and other dangers that could cause slipping.
- Place warning cones and caution signs to indicate wet floors or other hazards.
- Ensure that store lighting is adequate and burned out bulbs are quickly replaced.
- Keep store aisles clear of boxes, pallets, and other items that could cause tripping.
- Repair cracked, uneven, or otherwise damaged floors and replace torn or frayed carpet.
- Remove rugs and floor mats that can bunch up or skid and cause falls.
- Make sure parking lots and outdoor areas are free of cracked pavement and have good lighting.
Proving Liability for Slip and Fall Injuries at Stores
Just because someone slips (or trips), falls, and suffers injury at a store, it doesn’t mean the store will automatically be found liable. It must be shown that the store:
- Created an unsafe condition,
- Knew a dangerous condition existed and didn’t fix it, or
- Should have known of the hazardous condition as another reasonable person would have.
If a store customer’s own carelessness helped cause an accident, that will also influence the potential liability of the store, and the outcome of the case. For example, suppose a big and obvious liquid spill had just happened in a well-lit store aisle that store personnel had not yet learned of. Then a customer texting on their cell phone walked right through it, fell, and was injured. This carelessness by the customer will also be taken into account in a claim because of state laws.
Modified Comparative Negligence in Texas
Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule when it comes to slip and fall and other personal injury cases. What this means is, if it’s proven in a court trial that you share any fault for your own injuries, any award you may get will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are more than 50% at fault relative to another party, you are barred from recovering against them. Even if your case is settled out of court through negotiations with the store owner’s insurance company, your contribution to your own accident will mostly likely be taken into account in a settlement offer. For this reason, it’s highly important to work with a skilled Texas attorney who can make the strongest possible liability case against the store owner.
Compensation You Might Be Able to Get for Your Slip and Fall Injury
Here are types of damages that you might be able to recover in a slip and fall injury case against a store owner:
- Reimbursement for medical bills
- Lost wages when you couldn’t work due to your injuries
- Lost earning capacity if your injuries were severe enough to affect how much you can work in the future
- Pain and suffering for your pain and emotional anguish related to your injury accident.
How much you might get in compensation will generally depend on how badly you were hurt and the level of negligence involved. Settlements and awards in slip and fall cases can range from the thousands of dollars into the millions.
Types of Serious Injuries Caused by Slipping and Falling
There are many serious injuries that can result from slipping and falling in a store. Some of the most common ones include:
- Cuts and bruises
- Soft tissue injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Wrist, elbow, or knee damage
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Back problems
- Spinal cord injuries.
Injuries such as these may require expensive and extensive medical care. The pain and trauma from these injuries can also make it impossible for you to go to work for days, weeks, or months. If you can’t work anymore because of your injuries, or if the number of hours you can work is reduced, you can face severe financial distress.
It’s okay to explore your legal options when you’ve slipped and fallen due to hazardous and negligent conditions at a store. You don’t have to feel bad for seeking compensation so you can pay your doctor bills and feed your family. Stores carry insurance policies to protect themselves in the event customers are injured. Your attorney will work to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company or take your case to court to be settled by a judge or jury, depending on your wishes and the circumstances involved.
Consult a Slip and Fall Attorney for Answers When You’ve Been Injured
Our experienced slip and fall attorneys at the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant will advise you about your rights and options when you’ve been hurt because of hazardous conditions at a store. We have successfully handled many complex premises liability cases and know how to work aggressively to get the best possible resolutions for clients.
To schedule a free consultation about your case, call us today at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.