Going to the retail store for shopping should be a safe and pleasant experience for anyone. You find the products you need and get a good deal on them and a helpful shop assistant answers your questions. In reality, a lot of people suffer slip and fall accidents in retail stores and their shopping trip ends with an ambulance ride to the hospital. When such an unfortunate accident happens, you wonder whether you have the right to hold the store liable for your medical expenses and other economic damages you suffered as a result of the fall.
At CAIL Personal Injury Law Firm, we believe that every injured person deserves a fair compensation for their losses and damages, if they were caused by someone else’s negligence. In this case, we are talking about the store owner’s negligence to make their premises safe for all the customers walking in it.
How Serious Are Slip and Fall Accidents?
Many people are not aware that taking a fall can cause serious damages to one’s body. Depending on age and physical condition, a slip and fall can result in severe injuries, such as:
- broken bones
- soft tissue injuries
- neck injuries
- spine injuries
- traumatic brain injuries.
Moreover, according to statistical data published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019 39,433 people dies as a result of a fall. The danger is even higher for older adults (over 65 years old). In our state, no less than 25.3% of older adults suffered a fall accident in 2018 – the most recent year for which the CDC has centralized statistical data.
What the Law Says about Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents fall under the premises liability category of personal injury cases. The legal principle stipulates that a property owner has a responsibility for everyone who has a valid and lawful reason to be present at their premises. The owner must ensure that there are no dangerous conditions on their property that would cause harm to other persons. This type of responsibility is called the duty of care.
When there are unsafe conditions that cause someone to slip and fall, it means that the property owner or manager has breached their duty of care. Once the victim proves that they suffered physical injuries and economic damages as a direct result of the slip & fall accident, they have a case for filing a personal injury claim or even a personal injury lawsuit against the property owner responsible for their damages.
What You Need to Know about the Contributory Negligence Principle
So far, most reasonable people would say that it is fairly easy to file a claim against a retail store for slipping on wet floors or tripping on cracked pavement and get paid for your hospital bills and other losses. In reality, personal injury cases in the Commonwealth of Virginia are made difficult by the contributory negligence principle.
This principle states that an accident victim must have no fault at all in causing their accident in order to be eligible to seek compensation. This means that if it can be proven that you were even 1% responsible for your slip and fall, you are denied the right to get any kind of money from the insurer of the retail store. Unfortunately, in many cases it is very difficult to prove 0% fault, because accident victims have made statements or failed to preserve evidence.
For this reason, we will offer you a detailed account of what represents a personal injury slip and fall case and what to do if you suffered an accident at a retail store.
Types of Slip and Fall Accidents Covered by Premises Liability Law
Premises liability law states that:
- the property owner must create safe conditions for everyone present at their property (indoors and outdoors)
- you must have a valid and lawful reason to be present at the respective property.
Most of the US states, including the Commonwealth of Virginia, do not allow trespassers to pursue compensations under premises liability law, unless the property owner intentionally created dangerous conditions to harm them.
However, customers in a store are totally covered by the law, being deemed to be invitees at the property.
Slip and falls can happen in various circumstances:
- on slippery floors due to the presence of various liquids
- on icy driveways
- on cracked or uneven pavements and floors
- on wet staircases without a handrail.
Each of these instances represents a breach of the store owner’s legal duties to keep the premises safe for visitors.
What You Should Do after a Slip and Fall Accident
In order to have a valid legal claim, you must be able to prove that the store owner was negligent towards you by creating unsafe conditions or failing to remove known dangerous conditions. Otherwise, you may lose your premises liability lawsuit and end up paying for the store’s legal costs.
This means that you must not give the store managers and the insurance company any reason to cast doubt on your accident claim. Here is what you should do:
Report the Accident to the Store Manager
After a slip and fall, call the store manager and explain to them what happened. Do not make any statements related to your fault (words like “I did not notice” may be used against you) and do not answer leading questions (such as “were you actually looking at the floor when you slipped?”).
The store manager must fill in an incident report. Make sure that you read it carefully before you sign it. If it has any kind of fine print that most likely contains a waiver of the right to sue, refuse to sign the document before you consult with a personal injury lawyer.
Take Photographs of the Accident Scene
Injury accidents are difficult to prove without evidence of where and how they happened. In this instance, your mobile phone is your best ally. Take photos of the unsafe area (pool of liquid, ice sheet on the pavement, uneven floor, etc.) and of your injuries and clothes. Make sure that you preserve the footwear and clothing you were wearing for future inspections, without cleaning or wearing them again.
Talk to Eyewitnesses
Independent eyewitnesses are extremely valuable for experienced attorneys in negotiating slip & fall accident claims. A friend accompanying you or a store employee may give biased versions of the event. However, other shoppers around you cannot be deemed to have an interest in the case. Ask them to give a statement of what they saw, put the date and their signature on it and give you their contact details. If getting a statement at the accident scene is not possible, your personal injury attorney will contact them as soon as possible, before their memory of the event fades/
Call an Ambulance
When the EMT crew arrives, explain to them that you hurt yourself because you slipped and you fell. It is very important for liability claims to have the initial medical report indicating that the victim was hurt in a slip & fall accident.
Make sure that you obtain copies from all the medical records and hospital bills. They will be brought as evidence in supporting your claim and the compensation amount you ask for.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Help You File a Claim
Experienced personal injury lawyers will evaluate your case for free and tell you whether there are chances to be found partly at fault for the accident. No matter what a store manager or insurance adjuster may say, seek legal advice. In many instances, skilled attorneys can overturn a claim that the accident victim was responsible in any way for their slip and fall accident.
The lawyer will handle all the legal aspects of your claim, from filing the initial demand to negotiations with the insurance company representing the retail store. The claim will include all the types of compensation you are allowed to receive:
- economic damages: medical care costs, lost wages, pocket expenses, physical therapy
- non-economic damages: emotional trauma, mental anguish, loss of quality of life, loss of consortium.
Hire a Personal Injury Law Firm with a Proven Track Record!
CAIL Personal Injury Law Firm is a team of compassionate and experienced personal injury lawyers. We will fight on your behalf to win the maximum compensation for your slip and fall accident. We put your needs first, because we know that you are going through a difficult time, and you need the certainty that you can cover your medical care expenses without getting into debt.
We have extensive experience in negotiating with big insurance companies representing retail stores. Over the years, we have helped many accident victims get a fair compensation, even though they were not sure that they had a case. Our knowledge of the law and know-how in negotiations help us get the results out clients need so badly.
Please remember that you only have 2 years for taking legal action after a slip & fall (the statute of limitations), so contact us as soon as possible. We offer you a free case evaluation, so call us now: 1-800-HURT-123!
Meta description: Find out how to make sure that you have a case after a slip and fall accident in a retail store in Virginia and why you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney.