What happens if I slip and fall at a store?

Millions of people go out shopping every day. The influx of customers in stores throughout the day results in wear and tear on the floors, stairs, walkways and parking lots. Such hazards may cause a customer to slip and fall in the store.

A slip and fall is a personal injury that occurs when a person accidentally falls due to slipping or tripping on a substance or object. A personal injury is an injury to a person caused by another person’s negligence. In a slip and fall accident, the owner or possessor of the premises may be held responsible for the accident and the person’s injuries.

Slip and fall accidents are among the top ten causes of nonfatal injuries. However, some are so severe that the victim dies on impact or from the injuries. Falls are one of the leading three causes of preventable deaths that are related to an injury. Causes of slip and fall accidents include wet floors, uneven flooring or grounds, broken flooring, potholes, poor lighting, and clutter.

Under Pennsylvania law, an owner of a store has a legal duty to keep the premises safe for its customers. The owner must do routine checks to find conditions on the property that create unreasonable risks of harm. To protect customers, the owner must remove or fix the dangers or warn the customers to avoid the risks. The owner or employer may have the employees help eliminate the harmful conditions by assigning them to clean up spills, pick up fallen objects, place wet floor signs or put barriers around breaks and holes on the ground. Stores may also hire services for regular maintenance and repairs. Failure of the owner to keep the premises safe for visitors is negligent.

If a person slipped and fell in a store, they may sustain neck and head injuries, bone fractures and breaks, back and spinal cord injuries, and sprains and strains. If the individual requires medical attention, they will incur medical bills and expenses. The injured customer may file a lawsuit against the store to seek compensation for the injuries and damages. However, the customer must prove the store’s negligence by showing:

  • The store had a duty to make the premises safe for the customer;
  • The store failure to meet its duty;
  • The store breach of its duty caused the customer’s accident and injuries; and
  • The customer’s injuries and resulting damages.

Although the owner or possessor of the business establishment must discover and handle harms on the premises, patrons must also act with a standard of care to avoid risks they know about or apparent dangers. Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law may assign a percentage of liability to the injured customer for not avoiding the danger they knew about. If a slip and fall victim contributes to their accident, state law does not prevent them from receiving compensation for their injuries. The court reduces the judgment by the percentage of fault of the customer.

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