In my last blog post, we gave you some tips as to what to do if you had a motor vehicle accident, this post will be helpful if you have an accident while at a store, which normally is described as a "slip and fall" accident.
The most normal type of accident at a store is one where you are shopping for groceries, and unfortunately there is some type of substance on the floor that causes you to slip and fall. Though some may think these are minor type accidents, the injuries one can sustain from these accident can be severe.
In most states, especially in Alabama, the premises owner like Wal-Mart, Target, or Home Depot are given great protection by the Courts. The case law in Alabama routinely states that a premises owner like Wal-Mart is not an insurer of the Plaintiff’s safety and the Plaintiff has to show more than he/she slipped on a substance left on the floor. Most jurisdictions require that there is proof that the premises owner caused the condition to be present on the floor, or require that the premises either knew or should have known that the substance was on the floor. The key is establishing that the store should have known that the substance was on the floor, because very rarily will you have store employees readily admit that they knew there was liquid on the floor, but they chose not to clean it up.
How can one prove that the premises owner should have known the substance was on the floor. The key is documenting your accident. Something as simple grocery cart marks through the liquid can show that the substance existed on the premises long enough that a previous shopper drove their cart through the area before you had your accident.
Some Plaintiffs are nervous to admit that they could have seen the liquid if they had been paying attention. Don’t fall into this trap. Simply admitting that you may have been able to avoid the spill doesn’t preclude your claim from going forward, testifying that there was no way you could see the substance on the floor, could actually kill your case.
The best way to document your accident is to take pictures before they clean up the spill, by using as something as simple as your camera on your phone. If you don’t have a camera, be sure to note what the substance looked like on the incident report that is prepared by the store.
Please look for part 3 of this series which will address what to do if you are injured by a product.