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Personal Injury

Updated:

June 8, 2022

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Can I Sue the Store If I Fell in a Store

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZoTtAZazwA

If you suffer a slip and fall accident accident in a commercial establishment such as a store, can you sue them? It depends on the circumstances, but a store is responsible for keeping its customers safe from unreasonably dangerous conditions. Your chances of winning fair compensation are better if you know how to sue a store for an injury.

Who Can You Sue?

The identity of the defendant in an in-store slip and fall accident is not as straightforward as it might seem. It might seem clear if the store owns the property on which it sits. In most cases, however, the store leases its space from a property owner who might not even live nearby. Although you might sue an employee, an employee probably cannot afford to pay for the out of pocket expenses and pain and suffering you sustained as a result of your slip and fall incident.

what to do after a slip and fall accident

Should I Sue the Landlord or Sue the Store?

If the landowner leased the premises to the store, you have two possible defendants. How do you choose between them? It depends on the nature of the unsafe condition that led to the accident:

  • If the dangerous condition is related to the structure of the building, such as excessively steep stairs or a leaky roof, then you should probably sue the landlord.  
  • If the dangerous condition is related to the day-to-day operation of the store (failure to keep the parking lot free of black ice, for example), you should probably sue the store.

If you have grounds to sue both, you can do so. When suing both entities it is possible to have both of them contribute to your compensation award thus maximizing your recovery.

Important Issues in Slip and Fall Cases

Can you sue a store for falling and injuring yourself? Remember that a store’s liability for dangerous conditions is not absolute. They must simply exercise “reasonable care.” Some typical issues in a slip and fall case include:

  • Was the floor wet at the time of the accident?
  • If the floor was wet, how long had it been wet? Was it wet long enough that the store had time to notice it and dry off the floor?
  • Did the customer notice that the floor was wet? If they didn’t, should they have noticed?

These are just a few of the questions to answer in a slip and fall case.

Conditions that Can Cause Slip and Fall Accidents

Slips, trips, and falls can be caused by many dangerous conditions, including:

  • Spilled liquid on the floor;
  • Recently mopped floors;
  • A dangerous dog that chases customers;
  • Uneven floors;
  • Debris on the floor;
  • Loose stairway railings;
  • Dark stairwells;
  • Poorly maintained stairwells;
  • Ice in the parking lot;
  • Potholes in the parking lot;
  • Frayed carpet;
  • Slippery floor rugs.

There are many more possible conditions that might cause a slip and fall accident. The key to identifying a condition as unreasonably dangerous is to look for ways that the store could have been negligent in failing to repair or warn of a condition.

slip and fall compensation amounts

Negligence Per Se and Code Violations

Negligence per se arises when someone violates a public safety law. It is a legal shortcut to proving negligence. If you can trace your slip and fall accident to a building code violation, for example, you can establish negligence in a way that is difficult for a jury to deny. If you can prove that this negligence caused your accident, you have won your case. Evidence like this might get you a generous out-of-court settlement.

Proving Liability

Under what conditions is a store liable for a customer injury? A slip and fall negligence claim against a store breaks down into four elements of the claim—duty of care, breach of duty, damages, and causation. You must prove all four of these elements on a “more likely than not” basis to win your claim.

Duty of Care

The duty of care towards a customer includes the duty to conduct a reasonable inspection of the premises and the duty to repair or warn of any dangerous condition that remains.

Breach of Duty

You must show that the store breached its duty of care in a specific manner. Its employee may have failed to erect a “Wet Floor” sign after mopping, for example. Once you establish a duty of care and the breach of that duty, you have established negligence.

Damages

You must prove the number of your damages down to the last dime.

Causation

You must prove that the store’s negligence caused the accident. You must also prove that the accident was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the store’s negligence.

Expenses Eligible for Compensation

Slip and fall compensation amounts vary greatly from case to case. Typically, you may claim compensation for the following losses:

  • Past, present, and future medical bills. If you have not reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) before you settle your claim or go to trial, you might have to estimate future medical expenses.
  • Lost earnings.
  • Occupational disability compensation, if your injury prevents you from returning to your former occupation.
  • Incidental expenses, such as child care expenses, that you incurred as a result of the accident.
  • Pain and suffering arising from your injury. This element of damage could exceed all other elements combined.
  • Emotional distress, permanent disfigurement, loss of a body function, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-economic damages, to the extent that they apply to you.

If the store’s conduct was outrageous, you might even qualify for punitive damages. The lawyer will make sure that the case results review meet all your expectations.

how to file a slip and fall claim

How to File a Legal Claim for a Slip and Fall Injury

A personal injury lawyer will know how to file a slip and fall claim. The general process, which varies from case to case, works like this:

  • Conduct a preliminary investigation of your case and gather evidence.
  • Send a demand letter to the appropriate defendant (the store, for example). Your lawyer can help you draft it.
  • Begin negotiations, unless the defendant is too stubborn to cooperate. Have your lawyer do the negotiating for you.
  • Seek an out-of-court settlement if the defendant is willing to make a reasonable offer.
  • If you come to an agreement, have your lawyer draft a written settlement agreement for both parties to sign,
  • If you cannot agree on a settlement, file a personal injury lawsuit. Have your lawyer draft the Complaint about you, pay the filing fee, and have a third party deliver the appropriate papers to the defendant.
  • Gather evidence that is in the defendant’s possession using the pretrial discovery process.
  • Go to trial and argue your case.
  • Appeal an adverse verdict, if you have grounds for appeal.

Very few slip and fall claims go all the way to trial. Instead, most parties settle out of court.

Conclusion

Suing a store over a slip and fall claim works better than suing over a car accident because a store probably has greater financial resources to pay the claim than your average motorist. You need to identify the proper defendant, however.

The lawyers at Brooks & Radchenko have handled a multitude of slip and fall claims. Ms. Radchenko has served as president of the New York State Trial Association.

Remember, it’s not just whether you win or lose, but how much you win. We can help you with that! Contact our firm immediately by calling (903)-818-8681 or contact us online.

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