Residents enter stores to purchase items, which is usually an uneventful experience. You go to the store because you need something and not to suffer an injury. Unfortunately, when stores are busy, mistakes can happen, and you should not be left to deal with the consequences because stores have a duty to keep the premises safe. When you suffer a slip and fall injury, you must contact a local slip and fall lawyer.
Big box stores: Walmart, Costco, and other retailers require extra care from employees because they are larger than other stores and have more potential hazards.
Grocery stores: there are thousands of items, and grocery stores are bustling, leading to many dangers.
Shopping malls have a range of retail stores and thousands of daily visitors. Property managers must have crews on constant alert to keep all public spaces free of debris.
Parking lots: All establishments have a parking lot, and depending on the ownership status, they must keep these areas well-lit and free from hazards. There are also weather conditions to be aware of that can affect the parking lot maintenance.
Convenience stores: While smaller and easier to access, these stores are also prone to accidents. Staffing is much smaller, and there is often only one person who manages the entire store during a shift. If there is a rush and a hazard, it is a recipe for disaster.
You can suffer a slip-and-fall accident at a hotel, stadium, and any public area, but today we will focus on busy stores, especially during the holiday season.
Busiest times of the year
Stores are busy year-round, especially grocery and big box retailers. However, there are times when these stores are even busier than the rest of the year. The holiday season is full of different celebrations, and people will visit many stores in one day to gather gifts and items for a feast. Millions of people across the country are doing the same thing, leading to crowds and causing chaos for everyone.
Shoppers are less aware of their surroundings because they try to get in and out as quickly as possible, and employees work double time to get people out. The rush combines and results in injury. It is no coincidence that slips and falls often happen during the holidays.
Causes of slips and falls
There are hazards throughout stores, and as a customer, you are not looking out for them because the establishment should have policies to detect and prevent these hazards. A typical example is a wet and slippery floor, but here are some of the more common causes of slip and fall accident.
A liquid spill is very common, especially at convenience or grocery stores, and while you can slip on the liquid, it can also dry up, causing more issues. Oil, food, and other items can pool on the floor and become sticky. It causes shoppers’ shoes and shopping carts to pass over the spot and even get stuck. You can slip and hurt if your shoe gets stuck on the sticky goo.
Wet floors and congestion
During the busy season, there will be more customers than stores can handle, causing congestion. When there are too many shoppers, someone can slip and pummel into a crowd causing multiple injuries. Shoppers will walk slower and can even double up in the same area blocking other people from getting around. The flow of traffic will become chaotic.
Spilled soda and broken soda machines
There are soda machines at every register and throughout the store. When people grab these sodas, they can often leak or spill. These soda machines also have condensation, which can cause a puddle on the floor. An unsuspecting shopper can approach the soda machine and land on the floor within seconds.
Leaking pipes and broken sprinklers
While wet floors are common, there are reasons behind a wet floor you may not know. There are many pipes to keep coolers and merchandise within their required temperatures. The sprinkler system can also run amuck, causing water to go everywhere. If a pipe begins to leak, it can take some time for staff to notice, but in the meantime, shoppers are at risk of falling.
The inside and outside of the store needs appropriate lighting, especially at night. It is critical that an employee or manager replace any burnt-out bulbs promptly so there are minimal dark spots. There should always be lights at entrances, exits, and in the parking lot. If the store is responsible for the parking lot, they must ensure the lights are in working order or contact the party responsible for that area of the premises.
Oil spills are hazardous for many reasons, but when it comes to stores, they can cause serious injury. Shoppers will walk on the greases and can end up with permanent injuries. There are also delis that can cause oil spills from cooking.
Worn out floors
Due to extensive shopper traffic, floors can become worn out, especially with no maintenance. A floor with a lot of wear and tear can make it difficult for shoppers to walk the store without harm. Walkways are also susceptible to wear and tear.
Various displays around the store display merchandise and attempt to attract people to buy these items. They can be sale items or overstock, but they are just obstacles for shoppers. People cannot see above or around the display, and when maneuvering, they can bump into the display or slip on something on the floor.
The weather is unpredictable, and you can suffer from snow or rain hazards. While owners cannot control the weather, they can keep sidewalks and walkways free of snow and rain.
The injuries you will suffer
You will sustain more than a cut or bruise after a slip and fall; many injuries are permanent. All injuries require extensive medical care, which leads to medical bills and more.
Serious falls can result in broken bones, such as pelvic, hand, and foot injuries. Recovery times will vary depending on the severity of the break. Minor fractures will heal quickly, while a large broken bone will lead to other complications.
When you fall in a busy store, you can hit your head and suffer a traumatic brain injury that can cause torn tissues, bruising, medical complications, and death. These injuries are permanent, and you will suffer lifelong chronic pain.
Facial and dental damage
Debris on the floor can cause damage to your face, such as a cut on your face from broken glass. You can also suffer a broken nose, jaw, or loose teeth. In facial trauma, the scars will remain while the wounds can heal.
Cuts and lacerations
If there is glass or other debris on the floor, you will suffer abrasions and lacerations, leading to significant blood loss and infections. Deep cuts can cause damage to the nerves and muscles.
Why are slips and falls so common in grocery stores?
Grocery stores have items that we all need to live: food. So it is a place that everyone will visit at some point for essentials. Since there is so much traffic and a lot of commotion, it is easy for employees to ignore or miss out on dangerous conditions. Understaffing and other scheduling issues are also reasons why dangerous conditions go unnoticed and unresolved.
8. Steps store owners should take to prevent slips and falls
All store owners have a duty to keep the premises safe for visitors. Safety is of the utmost importance, and property owners must take actionable steps and issue policies that put customer safety at the forefront of their employees’ tasks. Steps that store owners must take to avoid slips and falls are:
1. Keep the aisles clear
As a general rule, customers should have two feet ahead of them to see and maneuver. High and wide displays will block the shopper’s view and hide what is on the floor.
2. Ensure the floor is clean
Property owners must clean the floor at night after closing or before the store opens. They must also inspect the premises for damaged flooring, leaks, or other hazards.
3. Look at the entrance and exit
Since adequate lighting is necessary for the safety of shoppers, owners must check the entrance, exits, and entire store for low lighting or dark spots. While walking, the store owners and managers can also address other potential hazards.
4. Place wet floor signs
If there is a spill or other hazards on the sales floor, employees must place wet floor signs until someone has cleaned the hazard up. Even after they mop up the spill, they should keep the sign present until the area is dry.
5. Adequate training
Business owners and managers are responsible for the actions of their employees and must ensure they have adequate training. Employees are responsible for cleaning up spills and need to know the right products to use.
6. Improper merchandise storage
Workers should appropriately place merchandise on sturdy shelves and stable surfaces. If merchandise is unstable, it can fall, causing a spill or even falling on top of a customer.
7. Improper cleaning storage
After using a mop, broom, bucket, and other cleaning products, employees must lock these items away so they are not in the way of shoppers.
8. Company Policies
Store owners must issue company policies that outline handling snow and ice removal, spill cleanup, rainy weather procedures, and more.
Negligence is vital to every case; without proving it, you cannot obtain compensation. There are four legal elements to proving negligence: duty of care, breach, injury, and causation. You must prove the store owed you a responsibility to keep the premises safe, and they breached that duty. You will need to prove to the insurance company that you suffered an injury from their negligence, usually done through medical records correlating the injury to the slip and fall. From this injury, you also suffer damages that will become apparent during the investigation phase.
The best way to prove negligence and liability is to contact a slip and fall lawyer immediately after you get emergency medical treatment. There are statutes that all cases must adhere to, and you cannot hesitate to get legal representation.
Compensation for busy store slips and falls
You can recover compensation for a slip and fall through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit for losses you suffer.
Economic damages cover:
You will need to discuss your compensation options with a slip and fall injury lawyer to obtain a comprehensive settlement.
Working with a slip and fall lawyer
Slip and fall injuries can haunt you for years and what should have been a routine grocery store trip turns into a life-altering event. Many victims require extensive medical care and are left unable to work. You will also have chronic pain that doesn’t have any relief.
You are not the cause of your injury and, therefore, should not be the one to pay for your financial losses. Slips and falls at a busy store are the results of negligence by the property owner. You can hold them liable and recover monetarily through a personal injury lawsuit. You must discuss your options with a slip and fall lawyer to get started.
David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.