Liability for Slip and Fall Accidents in Public Places

A wet floor sign sits on a floor beside the words "Premises Liability: Slipping on Wet Floors"

The National Floor Safety Institute reports that falls lead to eight million hospital visits every year. Often, slip and fall accidents occur in public places, where the victim is not to blame for his or her suffering. Wet floors are an especially common source of danger, leading to hip fractures, concussions, and a variety of other devastating injuries. While victims may be eligible for damages, determining fault can be a complicated process.

Who Might be Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident?

The following is a list of those who are typically responsible for slip and fall accidents:

Shift Employees

When you visit your local gas station or supermarket, you anticipate that all floors will be dry and free of hazards. It is the shift employee’s job to keep these surfaces hazard-free, regardless of whether or not a manager is on duty. Employees should patrol the premises regularly to look for spills and slick spots, and respond immediately if they observe anything that may lead to a slip and fall injury. Unfortunately, many employees do not actively look for spills and other hazards and so fail to respond to them within an appropriate period of time.

Managers, Supervisors, or Business Owners

Some employees work hard, but can only accomplish so much. If they work for understaffed businesses, they may never get the opportunity to monitor for hazards that may lead to slip and falls. As they rush about, responding to one customer after another, they can miss seemingly-obvious spills. While the employee may shoulder some of the blame in such cases for not prioritizing correctly, the bulk of the fault may actually be with the person responsible for drawing up the premises’ employee schedule, especially if the location was clearly understaffed at the time of the spill.

Property Owners

Certain property conditions lend themselves to slip and fall accidents, no matter how well-staffed a location is or how hard its employees work. Property owners must keep their premises in tip-top condition to minimize the potential for injury. For example, roof leaks can lead to slip and fall injuries, so it is the premise owner’s responsibility to make repairs as quickly as possible.

A failure to repair a roof leak promptly was the cause of a notable slip and fall accident case a few years ago, in which a Florida woman suffered a concussion, whiplash, and herniated discs following a fall in a Chipotle chain. A jury determined that the restaurant was at fault due to a roof leak. While the manager noticed the leak almost immediately and took steps to keep the area safe, Chipotle’s corporate office failed to respond to his request for roof repair in adequate time.

The Victim

Yes, it’s true; victims in slip and fall accidents may be held partially liable. This is of particular concern in Texas, which is a modified comparative fault state. This means that the victim must be less than 50% responsible for the accident before being able to secure damages. Attempting to determine who shoulders what percentage of fault can quickly complicate seemingly simple cases. For example: what if the store’s employees argue that they placed a caution sign but you purposefully ignored it? Likewise, they may argue that you caused the spill. The good news? You can still collect damages, even if the court determines that you are partially to blame. A skilled attorney can help you demonstrate that you played a minimal role in the accident and that you deserve compensation for your injury.

The Role of ‘Wet Floor’ Signs

Spills are only natural at public facilities — especially restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and restrooms. It’s not fair to expect premises owners to keep their floors completely dry 100% of the time. They cannot control the actions of their customers. If, however, a spill occurs, they can respond quickly to minimize the risk of injury to patrons. In most cases, this means placing a caution sign near the wet area as soon as possible. However, a caution sign in and of itself may not absolve the employee or property owner of fault. For example, in the aforementioned Chipotle case, the manager placed a warning sign near the wet area. This didn’t stop the victim from slipping and falling, and the corporation was still held liable.

Did you or a loved one recently suffer a slip and fall accident? You deserve justice. The right attorney can help you hold responsible parties accountable and maximize the compensation that you receive. Your case will be in capable hands if you trust the attorneys at Branch & Dhillon. Call today to schedule a consultation.