If I Slip and Fall in a Store, Is the Store Responsible for My Injuries?
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Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal medically treated injuries in the United States. Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere—even in grocery or department stores. There are a number of hazards that could cause slip and fall accidents inside a store, including slippery floors, products that have fallen onto the store’s walkways, defective stairs, improperly stacked merchandise, and torn carpeting. Outside the store, customers may trip over cracks in the sidewalk or potholes, especially if the parking lot is not adequately lit.
Just because you may have fallen and been injured at a store, however, does not mean that the store is automatically responsible for your injuries.
What Do I Have to Prove to Succeed in a Florida Slip and Fall Case?
To succeed in a Florida slip and fall case you have to prove that the store had “notice” of the dangerous condition before your fall occurred. In other words, you will have to prove that your fall was caused by a dangerous condition, that the store knew or should have known about the dangerous condition before you fell and, that despite knowing about the condition, it failed to either remedy the condition or warn you about it. To prove this, one or more of the following must be shown:
The owner created the dangerous condition;
The owner actually knew of the dangerous condition yet failed to warn you or correct it; or
The dangerous condition existed for a long enough period of time that a reasonable owner would have discovered it and corrected it before your fall.
What Steps Should I Take After I Have Been Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, your health and safety should be your first priority. If you believe you are seriously injured, stay where you are and call for help. Do not attempt to move or stand up until help has arrived—this is especially important if you think that you have injured your head or back.
Many victims make the mistake of thinking that they do not need to seek medical attention because they only have minor injuries. Because they are unsure if they are hurt, or because they think their injuries are minor, they also may not report their accident to store management right away. This is a mistake! Symptoms may not develop until hours, or even several days, after the accident. For these reasons, it’s best to get checked out by a doctor just in case you have sustained an injury that is more serious than you think. It is also important that you document your fall with the store, whether you think you are injured or not.
Important Evidence for Your Slip and Fall Case
Given the strict notice requirements discussed earlier, it is important that certain key evidence is obtained and preserved. If you are able to, start to gather evidence at the scene of the slip and fall. It is important to try to identify the hazard that caused you to slip or trip. Was the floor wet? If so, what color was the liquid that you slipped on? How large of a spill was it? If clear liquid, was it dirty? Did it look as though it had been tracked through before you slipped? If not liquid, did you trip over an object that shouldn’t be there or a tear in the carpeting?
If you figure out what it was that caused you to slip, take photos of it with your smartphone, or have someone with you take photos. You should also look around to see if there are any signs warning you of the hazard. For example, if you slipped because of a spill on the floor, look for a sign that warns you that the floor is wet. Take pictures of the area surrounding the hazard to prove that there were no warning signs in place. You should also look around to see if you are in an area where there are store employees. Did you slip near the checkout aisles? If so, was there an employee in the aisle at the time? If possible, make a mental note of these details.
If you fall in a store, chances are also good that there will be at least one person who witnessed your fall. Talk to this person and ask if you can have his/her contact information in case you need to ask them questions about what happened later on. The store may try to claim that you are lying about what happened, so having a witness that supports your side of the story could be vital to your case.
It is also important to notify someone who works for the store right away. Most department or grocery stores have company policies that require employees to create official reports after someone falls and/or is otherwise injured on the property. Find an employee and let them know what happened. If the employee fails to help you, ask for a store manager.
When reporting your fall, provide as much information as possible to the person who is writing the accident report. Make sure you ask for the person’s name so you know who you spoke to within the store. Do not admit fault or comment on your injuries at this point, as the store will use your statements against you.
Bottom line, the quicker you act and the more information you have about the dangerous condition, this will go a long way toward the success of your claim.
If you have questions about your Florida auto accident case, you can download our Free Report – The Ultimate Guide to Florida Slip and Fall Cases– which is available at our website, or you can click the link provided. You can also contact us at (813)419-3866.
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Key Things You Need to Know if You Have Been in a Slip and Fall Accident in Florida
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