Stores in Los Angeles, from Walmart to Ralphs, have responsibilities to their customers. Chief among them is providing a safe environment such as doing what needs to be done to prevent slips and falls. Since a business owner invites patrons onto store property, the owner also has a legal duty to protect them against dangerous conditions. If a customer slips and falls due to the store owner’s negligence or negligent acts of his or her employees, the business may be considered liable for the injuries suffered by the customer. That means the store owner or manager needs to make every reasonable effort to remove or alert shoppers to unsafe conditions. In order to effectively do that, store owners need to understand what constitutes negligence and how to prevent it.
The concept of negligence is fairly simple. It means that a person fails to take reasonable care that results in injury to another person. Negligence is at the root of all personal injury claims, and providing proof of fault is an important part of a lawsuit. There are four elements that must be proven. They are:
- The person who was negligent, the defendant, had a duty to the injured party, the plaintiff
- This duty was breached or discarded by the defendant
- The negligent action, or lack of action, caused the plaintiff’s injuries
- The injuries caused monetary loss
Negligence in a Store
Let’s look at the elements of negligence as they might exist in a business open to the public. Slip and fall accidents result from a variety of failed responsibilities, particularly from wet areas on the floor and obstacles in the customer’s path. For instance, a freezer leaks, producing a wet spot on the floor. The owner or employees need to be vigilant for such situations and mop up the spill and prevent further leaks. In addition, they must place signs around the spill alerting customers to a wet floor.
Another example might be items that have fallen from a shelf such as produce. Cleaning up the items and making sure residue on the floor does not remain slippery should be done in a reasonable amount of time. The time it takes to notice a spill is the time it would take a prudent person to discover it and take action. Having an inspection plan in force is a good idea.
Bad weather means that customers will have a greater likelihood of slipping when they enter a store or other business. Using mats in front of entrances is a good way to avert accidents. Placing signs warning of slippery floors is another. Overall, taking the initiative to prevent accidents is a clear indication that an owner is acting in a proactive manner.
How Does a Store Owner Prevent Accidents?
Knowing what we know about the causes of in-store slip and fall accidents, let’s look at the way a proprietor might prevent them. Despite the size of the store, the first thing a store owner or person in charge might establish is a plan to watch over the premises for unsafe conditions. While every employee is responsible for picking up or mopping a fallen item or spill, designating one employee to monitor the premises during his or her shift might be helpful. This eliminates not knowing about the condition until something happens.
The person in charge can also set up a guide that explains what to do. This eliminates an employee not remembering what steps to take. It also proves that the store owner was concerned enough about the safety of the store to take the appropriate measures, and write them down for employees to follow.
Instances Where Appropriate Measures Were Not Taken
Having a plan and executing it properly is one way a store can ensure safety. Deviating from maintenance such as ensuring proper lighting and keeping steps and walkways free of dangerous objects can cause the store to be found at-fault in an accident. There have been notable cases that emphasize this duty of care.
A shopper at a California Costco fell and fractured her knee in 2012. This happened because liquid soap had spilled onto the floor, and the customer slipped on it. In the trial, it was noted that several employees saw the spill but did nothing. Costco was ordered to pay $400,000 in damages. If an individual can prove that he or she slipped on a substance on the floor, as found in Lanier v. Walmart Stores, Inc., the store must prove that it took care in keeping the premises safe. Having a plan and regular inspections would have helped establish the element of care.
What to Do If You Suffered a Slip and Fall Injury
It’s a scary situation when you are injured in a slip and fall accident at a store. The most important thing you can do is keep your head. Seek medical attention immediately. If you can, take pictures of the area where you fell, specifically showing the reason you fell. Witnesses may come up to you and say they saw what happened. Get their names and telephone numbers. You may need it later. Write everything down, and if you don’t have access to pen and paper, dictate it into your cell phone. Most importantly, call a slip and fall lawyer when you can.
The law firm of David Azizi has won many cases in Los Angeles for slip and fall injuries. He is available 24/7 and can answer your questions during a free consultation. Your injuries need time to heal, and proving liability is time-consuming. Let David Azizi take that burden from you. He is a seasoned slip and fall accident attorney and can explore the reason the accident happened using in-store videos or other means of getting a clear picture of the circumstances leading up to your injury. Call him at 800-991-5292 today.