If you suffer a slip-and-fall accident at your friend’s home, then you can probably assume that they are the party who should be held liable for your injuries. However, liability in a slip-and-fall accident that occurs in a public business, like a retail store, might not be as clear-cut. In Florida, premises liability laws can complicate the situation, making it more of a challenge to determine liability for a slip-and-fall accident in a retail store.
There are usually three possible liability outcomes in such a case:
- The store is liable: Every property owner has a duty to protect visitors, guests, and patrons from undue harm caused by unreasonable hazards. In a retail store, the rule is no different. The manager and staff members all have an unspoken responsibility to keep an eye open for potential hazards where people frequent, such as wet puddles in restrooms, spilled liquids in aisles, or slippery tile flooring. Failing to clean up hazards in a reasonable amount of time can make the store liable for a consequent slip-and-fall accident.
- A third-party is liable: Someone who acts maliciously in a retail store and intentionally creates slipping or tripping hazard could feasible be held liable for any resulting accident. Imagine a situation in which another shopper dumps juice on the ground in front of you as you are walking while looking at your smartphone. If you slipped and the accident was caught on a security camera, then the store could probably dodge any liability by directing it towards that individual.
- You or no one is liable: There is also the chance that you or no one will be found entirely liable for your slip-and-fall accident in a retail store. The key is what is an “unreasonable hazard,” or what are “reasonable steps” to ensure your safety. No store can spot and clean all hazards the moment they happen. For example, imagine another shopper negligently bumps a bottle of cooking oil on the ground, causing a spill, and they do not notice. Not even one minute later, you head down the same aisle and slip. Due to the brief amount of time between the incident and your accident, the store might say it did not have a reasonable amount of time to clean the spill, reducing its liability.
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It is important to realize you might be able to collect compensation for any slip-and-fall accident that occurred in a retail store or any other property you do not own or control. To explore your rights and see if you have a valid claim after getting hurt while shopping, come to Paulsen Law Group. Our Tampa Bay premises liability attorneys can analyze the evidence of your accident and determine who should be named as a liable party in your personal injury claim.