Do you want to know why slip and fall accidents happen in grocery stores? If YES, here are 10 reasons to take note of.
All of us have seen a hazard in a grocery store a time or two. Most of the time, these issues are marked by caution signs. Other times, they aren’t and some of us report the issues to an employee so no one gets hurt.
Unfortunately, there are times when hazards aren’t taken care of before someone slips and falls. Slip and fall settlements are some of the most common in personal injury law. That’s because victims are entitled to damages when the accident wasn’t their fault.
Like all businesses that open themselves up to the public, stores are legally expected to maintain reasonably safe premises for the protection of their customers.
When a slip and fall accident happens at a department store, grocery store, or even a local “mom and pop”, the business may be liable for injuries if it can be shown that the slip and fall occurred due to unsafe conditions on the property.
A store can be legally responsible for unsafe conditions under a few different theories. The store owner may be liable if it created the unsafe condition, by using an exceptionally slippery wax to clean its floors, for example.
The owner may also be liable if he/she knew of the condition, even if he did not create it, but failed to take steps to remedy it. For example, if one customer spills a drink in an aisle, and another customer injures her back after slipping on the puddle and falling on the floor.
Note that in such circumstances, the injured person will have to show some evidence that the store knew or should have reasonably known of the condition.
There are expected to show some evidence that the spill sat there long enough for the store to have become aware of its presence and have a reasonable opportunity to clean it up and prevent an accident.
The injured party may also show that the store knew (or should have known) that spilled products were common, but failed to have a system in place for monitoring and cleaning up such spills.
A customer is required to exercise reasonable caution to protect him or herself, and can’t hold the store accountable for every last thing that goes wrong.
The main question to ask is whether a reasonably careful customer would have noticed the unsafe condition and avoided it. If so, then the store might not be held liable for the injury.
10 Basic Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents at Grocery Stores
So many people spend at least one or two days a week at the grocery store. Most don’t expect anything bad to happen during their trip, like a slip and fall accident.
Unfortunately, however, slip and fall accidents are a common occurrence in grocery stores and often due to negligence. These accidents can cause head injuries, broken bones, and other serious injuries. Here are some of the basic causes of slip and fall accidents at grocery stores.
Liquid And Food Spills
In a grocery store, items can get knocked off of shelves, babies throw down bottles, sippy cups break open, and people eat while they shop and drop things.
Maybe a jar was dropped or a glass chocolate milk bottle was knocked into the floor. All these are common hazards. If the mess isn’t quickly addressed, a customer can slip and fall.
Freshly Mopped Floors
Grocery floors have to be mopped on a regular basis to stay clean. However, they can be quite slick after cleaning. Customers may not know these floors are wet and slip over them. Grocery store employees should put up warning signs of wet floors to prevent customers from getting hurt.
Uneven Flooring, Torn Carpet, And Other Flooring Issues
There are a number of flooring hazards that can come about in a grocery store. A floor tile might be missing or a rug is torn. Note that one crucial issue is when a rug won’t lie flat on the floor, causing a trip hazard.
If a warning isn’t posted or hazardous rugs removed or replaced, the grocery store could be held liable for injuries resulting from an accident.
Restrooms that aren’t cleaned regularly pose a slipping hazard for customers. Spilled water on the floor, toilet paper, and other debris on the floor can cause customers to trip and fall. It’s imperative for employees to check up on the restrooms a few times a day and clean up messes as necessary to avoid accidents.
Parking Lot Hazards
If a parking lot hazard, such as gaping cracks, holes, and uneven pavement causes a fall, there are multiple parties that could be held responsible. These parties include the grocery store or building owner and/or the people responsible for maintaining the parking lot.
Slips and falls often happen in grocery stores and in many cases, this is caused by improper training. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), together with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, have created a fact sheet that shows how easy it is to prevent slip and fall accidents at work.
A key element in this is training. Note that every employee should be properly trained to use the tools and equipment necessary for the job.
Furthermore, each job should be properly planned and workers should be provided with the tools they need in order to remain safe. Failure to do so could leave the employer liable for damages.
A certain degree of ongoing maintenance is expected to be done around entryways, especially on days when the weather is bad. Water, snow, and ice can cause a slippery entrance.
Floor mats that are flat to the floor can help avoid accidents, but a person can trip if the floor mat is raised in any way. In addition, not having the proper precautions in place can lead to a liability issue.
According to the National Floor Safety Institute, about 24% of all slips and falls are caused by improper footwear. This does not however mean that only people who wear six inch heels are at risk. Indeed, sneakers or work boots can be equally dangerous.
The big risk is presented when shoes do not offer the right type of traction. This can lead to slips and falls, not just at work but also at home or even in public.
Lack of Warnings
In some cases, it’s not possible for the grocery store staff to immediately remediate a hazard. They can, however, put up barriers or signs that properly warn the public to be cautious.
Not posting these warnings or taking measures to keep customers out of hazardous areas can lead to a negligence claim if a fall occurs.
According to the National Floor Safety Institute, about 3% of slip and fall cases are actually fraudulent. In some cases, this is because the stage for the fall was set. For example, someone may purposefully spill oil in a grocery store and slip on it.
Also, some people seek damages for an injury from a party that is not liable for it. For example, someone may have sustained an injury at home but would then claim it actually happened at work.
Finally, there are cases where a slip and fall injury is claimed but it never occurred at all. Fraud cases are incredibly rare, thankfully, but they do list in the top 6 causes of slip and fall accidents.