Attorneys Who Understand Their Clients

Does the store owner have to pay for your slip-and-fall injuries?

There was a slick patch on the floor in the Pennsylvania store where you were shopping, and you slipped and fell. As is common with slip-and-fall accidents, you hurt your wrist as you tried to break your fall, and you also hit your head on the floor. You needed emergency medical attention, and you missed a few days of work as you recovered. Should the store owner have to pay for the medical bills, pain and suffering, and your lost wages?

According to FindLaw, the answer to this question of liability depends on several factors. Naturally, one of these is that your injuries are directly related to your accident. However, whether the accident was someone else’s fault may be more difficult to prove. 

If you pursue a lawsuit, the judge will want to know whether there was a dangerous condition present. This is subjective, as you must prove that the risk to your safety was both unreasonable and something a person wouldn’t be expected to anticipate, based on the circumstances. So, if the floor is wet near the door, but it has been raining outside and there are signs out to warn you, the owner may not be liable. On the other hand, if there is a wet spot in the middle of an aisle and there is no warning, it may be a dangerous condition.

Even so, you must still be able to prove that the owner was responsible for your injury. If the wet spot happened because another shopper went down the aisle right before you and spilled her drink, the owner may not have known about it, and no one could reasonably expect him to know about it because it just happened. The judge may decide the owner is not liable.

However, if the spill happened ten minutes ago, it may be reasonable to expect someone to have informed an employee or the manager about it, or for an employee to notice the wet floor. The owner should have a policy in place for dealing with this type of hazard, and the condition should have been dealt with. In this case, a judge may rule in your favor.

These scenarios are provided as illustrations of the elements of slip-and-fall liability, but they are general and should not be interpreted as legal advice.