Grocery Store Liability for Slip and Fall Accidents
Clean up in aisle 5! You may have heard that phrase or a similar one in the supermarket or grocery store, signaling to staff that one of them must mop up a spill or attend to another type of mess on the floor.
Failure to remediate spills and other hazards promptly may result in a slip and fall accident for which the owners and operators of the store may be liable for damages to anyone injured as a result. In general, inviting or allowing people onto property creates a duty to use reasonable precautions to protect those people from dangerous conditions.
In a grocery store, hazards such as spilled liquids or loose or broken flooring can catch customers unaware, especially if the lighting is bad or the problem is in an area that is heavily trafficked or difficult to avoid. Once the store owner or operator becomes aware that a problem might exist, they must investigate and promptly take effective measures to fix the problem or — if they can’t do so right away — block off the area and/or post warnings of the danger.
However, the employees of the supermarket or grocery store aren’t the only ones who need to exercise caution. Customers are under their own duty to act with due care. For instance, you may be negligent if you slipped and fell when you:
- Noticed or should have noticed the dangerous condition but proceeded anyway
- Ignored warnings of the danger
- Weren’t paying attention to where you were going
- Went past safety barriers
Even if the jury concludes that you are partly at fault for your injuries, this finding will not prevent you from recovering damages, as long as the store is also found to be at fault. This is because California has a comparative negligence rule, requiring the jury to weigh the relative negligence of each party and to assign percentages of liability to each. Your damages will be reduced by the same percentage as your share of fault.
If you are injured in a grocery store slip and fall, there are immediate steps you should take if you are physically able. Use your cell phone to take a picture of the hazardous condition that led to the accident. Get the names of any witnesses and take careful notes on what happened as soon as possible. Report your accident to the store but don’t take the blame or apologize. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible, for the sake of your health and to establish a medical record of the injury. Finally, contact an experienced slip and fall attorney.
Located in Santa Barbara, Patterson Law is one of southern California’s premier personal injury law firms, serving Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. If you or a family member has been injured in a slip and fall accident, please contact us online or call 888-479-4589 for an initial consultation.