Who is Liable for a Slip and Fall Inside a Store in Salt Lake City?
A trip to the store should never be a safety risk. Store workers and owners are responsible for making sure that their shops are kept clean and safe, and that things like spills are cleaned up. Grocery stores, convenience stores, and other shops may have a legal duty to help protect customers from slipping and tripping on dangers in their store. If they fail to do so, you might be entitled to sue the shop for your injuries.
Salt Lake City premises liability lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law, PLLC may be able to take your case and help you get the compensation you need for your injuries. If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall accident in Salt Lake City, talk to an attorney today.
Suing a Shop for Slip and Falls
Any property owner is responsible for keeping their premises safe for guests and customers. When something happens that causes a customer to slip or trip, the negligent shop workers and owners may be held responsible for the injuries. For this to happen, you must be able to prove the following four elements:
- The shop workers or owner owed you a duty to eliminate the dangers or warn you about them;
- The worker or owner breached that duty by failing to do so;
- You were injured by the danger (e.g. you slipped and fell or tripped on the danger); and
- You can prove your injuries in court (including the cost of medical expenses, lost wages, and how the injuries personally affected you).
Some common accidents that occur in shops and stores are:
- Workers fail to mop up a spill or add a “Caution: Wet Floor” sign, leading someone to slip in the spill.
- While a worker uses a vacuum or other appliance, a customer trips over the cord.
- A customer trips on uneven pavement or tiling.
- Other customers track in ice and snow in the winter, and another customer slips on the wet floor.
- Items fall off the shelves, and customers slip or trip over them.
Courts use a standard of “reasonableness” to judge whether the shopkeeper was negligent. A reasonable shop worker or owner does things like clean up spills, tuck away loose wires, or warn customers of dangers with yellow caution signs. There may be no expectation that these people go above and beyond – such as accompanying someone through the shop to prevent them from tripping. Sometimes, the most reasonable thing to do is simply put up a caution sign and clean it up later, especially if shops are understaffed.
Who Pays for Slip and Fall Settlements at a Store?
We’ve discussed the shop workers and shop owners as two groups that could be held responsible. In many cases, the person directly responsible for failing to clean up a spill or warn of another danger is the on-duty workers. These may be high school students or part-time workers, or the managers in charge of them. Sometimes, the workers also own the shop, as in the case of many gas stations or small bodegas. In any case, you may be able to reach beyond the workers and hold the owners themselves responsible.
In Utah, we have a “vicarious liability” rule called “respondeat superior.” If a store worker is responsible for your injuries, respondeat superior may allow you to hold their employer liable for damages. In order for this to work, the employee must have been acting “in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the act giving rise to the injury.” More specifically, there are three requirements to hold the store owner responsible:
- The employee must be doing the general kind of work they were employed to do,
- They must be working within the typical hours and in the typical place they work, and
- What they did must have been aimed at serving their employer.
For instance, imagine a shop worker failed to clean up a spill, and you slipped in it. If the worker was hired to run the shop, was on-duty at the store during business hours, and was working on something else instead of cleaning the spill, you could likely hold the store owner accountable for the worker’s error.
Alternatively, as the owner of the property, the company may be directly responsible for things like uneven pavement.
The larger, wealthier company can often be held responsible, even if the worker was the negligent one. For instance, if you were injured at a department store, grocery store, or other large store, you could potentially sue the company that owns the store.
Salt Lake City Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured by slipping or tripping in a store, talk to an attorney today. These kinds of cases can often result in high compensation from the store owner or company if you faced severe injuries. Slip and fall accidents can often cause severe brain injuries, especially for elderly or disabled victims. For a free consultation on your case, call Salt Lake City personal injury attorney Darwin Overson today at (801) 895-3143.