Grocery stores have a duty to their customers to keep them safe from foreseeable accidents. Stores must keep their floors clear of spills and debris. This includes immediately cleaning up messes, repairing damaged flooring and placing signs conspicuously to warn customers wherever there are wet floors. If there is a hidden danger like loose flooring that could cause a person to trip, stores must take measures to warn customers about the risk.
Some cases turn on whether the store owners, managers and employees knew or should have known about a hazard. If an injury occurred before there was any time to do anything about it, representatives for the store may be able to argue that there was nothing employees could have done to prevent the accident. For example, if an accident was caused by a banana peel and there are facts that show it had been on the floor long enough that it should have been cleaned up, this will help prove that the store should be held liable; i.e., if the peel is covered with dirt and was trampled it is more clear that it had probably been on the floor for a while than a fresh banana peel.
A store may argue that the customer was in an area where they were not allowed or that they contributed to their own injuries. For example, if a customer is injured in a back room where a sign was placed in an obvious area stating that only employees are allowed, the store may be able to argue that they did not owe a duty to keep that particular area safe for the public. If a person was using carts in a way that they were not intended to be used or trying to stand on shelves in a way that was obviously dangerous, the store may be able to argue that the customer should be held liable for their own injuries.
If you fall at a grocery store, it is a good idea to report your injuries right away to management. Many stores have cameras and forms to document this type of incident. If you can, make sure that you get contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident and take photos of the area where the injury occurred. At the very least, you need to make sure that you note the exact time and date the injury occurred since this can be important later when you need to obtain camera footage of the incident and a list of who was working that day.
Luckily, proving a fall occurred in a grocery store may be easier than it might be in many other places due to the number of cameras and people that are likely to be there to record and witness the incident. Stores are wary about people who may fraudulently claim that they have fallen in store as well as the potential for theft, so there are usually several cameras in areas open to the public recording any incident from multiple angles.
If you have questions about whether or not a grocery store should be held liable for an accident, contact an attorney with experience in premises liability cases.
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