Slips Trips and Falls can happen anywhere. The legal term for these cases is called a premises case, but is usually called a slip and fall. Maybe it is just a sore knee, or a bruised elbow. It could also be broken bones and torn muscles and ligaments. A store is required to keep its floors safe for all of the customers. However, when someone falls at a store it is not automatically the store’s fault. The law for slip and falls can be tricky. The fall must have happened because of an unsafe condition.
What is an unsafe condition?
An unsafe condition can be many things. It can be a wet floor, a rip in a rug, an improper floor mat, hoses lying on the ground, potholes filled with water, - almost anything can be a dangerous condition.
A store can sometimes avoid responsibility for a slip and fall if there were proper warning signs. This is why you usually see a big yellow "Wet Floor" sign when the floor is wet. The sign must be easily seen and properly warn of the specific danger. When a store becomes aware of a dangerous condition it must make it safe or place proper warning signs. In some circumstances a store is not responsible if they failed to properly warn a customer. For example: if another customer spilled water on the floor and one minute later a customer comes along and falls on the wet floor, the law will protect the store if it did not have a certain amount of time to discover the wet floor. The law will also not make a store responsible for posting warning signs if the danger is "open and obvious". A red puddle on a white tile floor can be "open and obvious" meaning the customer should have seen the danger and avoided it. Whether a store is responsible is determined by the very specific facts of each case.
What should you do?
If you slip and fall in a store you should immediately tell an employee. If you need physical assistance or a chair, ask for it. It is extremely important that you take pictures of the place where you fell. These cases rely on the specific facts and without pictures it can be really hard to prove it. Get the names of the employees and manager that you actually talk to. Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Most of the time the store will ask you to fill out a report. Be very careful about this and make sure it is correct before you write or sign anything. You first need to tend to your immediate medical needs. Do not delay any emergency medical care. A manager might tell you that they will pay for your medical bills, but this does not require them to do it. They can later decided not to pay them. You need to hire an attorney who knows how to handle these cases.