We go to the grocery store several times a week. Although it may seem like a relatively safe place, accidents can still happen due to damaged grocery carts, improperly positioned floor mats, or slippery floors from leaks and spills. These conditions can cause one to slip and fall. If it has happened to you, you might now be wondering, I slipped and fell in a grocery store. Now what?
Now, you find a lawyer, like us, who you can consult, share your experience with, and who will aggressively advocate for your right to be compensated for the injuries sustained in their premises. If you slipped and fell in a grocery store, you can call us at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774 or 718-509-9774 or send us an email at email@example.com.
What to do if you’ve slipped and fallen in a grocery store
Hopefully, when you slipped and fell in the grocery store, you did the following things in order to strengthen your claim.
First, check around to see if anyone has witnessed the fall. Having eyewitness testimony will always be good for your case. Although family and friends make good witnesses, a third-party independent witness would be better. Getting their names and contact information would be important in case you need their testimony in the future.
Immediately report the incident to the store manager. Request to see the surveillance cameras. Ask the store manager to make an incident report and to email you a copy of the incident report. Ask for the store’s insurance company and the name and address of the grocery store’s corporate office, or if it’s a small business, the business owner.
Take pictures and videos of the accident scene with your phone. Make sure that the picture and video have a date and time stamp or a way to determine when the picture and video were taken.
Immediately go to the doctor to get your injuries checked. Don’t delay getting medical treatment. This will establish the causal relation between the slip and fall and the injuries you sustained. Keep all medical bills and reports.
Getting a slip and fall attorney
If you’ve done all of the above, you’ve just made your attorney’s life a little bit easier. If not, don’t fret. Based on the circumstances of your case, your lawyer can help you navigate the process of gathering evidence and proving your claim. Getting a slip-and-fall attorney, like us, will always work for your benefit. We can send your demand for compensation in writing, enclosing copies of your medical bills and other evidence.
Most large grocery store chains have employed lawyers to defend them. These mega-chain lawyers and their insurance companies will likely give you a lowball offer if you come into the negotiating table on your own without legal representation. For this reason, it is recommended to get a lawyer even during the preliminary stage of gathering your evidence and building your case. Most lawyers will accept slip-and-fall cases on contingency.
Establishing slip and fall negligence
If you’ve slipped and fallen in a grocery store, proving the grocery store’s liability is a matter of proving a negligence claim:
- the grocery store must have owed you a duty of care
- the grocery store breached that duty of care
- the grocery store’s breach caused you harm
- because of the grocery store’s breach, you suffered physical, emotional, or financial injuries
The first element, the existence of a duty of care, is easy to prove. For as long as the grocery store is open to the public and invites the public to its premises, it owes a duty of care to those who have entered to make sure that its premises are safe.
The second element, the breach of a duty of care, has become contentious in litigation. In New York, jurisprudence provides that there is breach when the owner or possessor of the premises had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition and failed to do something about it.
For example, you were in the grocery store. There were attendants giving out free food and drinks in a booth inside the grocery store. One grocery store goer was given a free drink, which she accidentally spilled on the floor. Several grocery store employees saw the spill on the floor but did nothing about it. After two hours, you were passing by an aisle, searching for his groceries on the shelves when you slipped on the spilled drink. You suffered serious back injuries because of the slip. Is the grocery store liable? Yes, because several employees saw the spilled drink but failed to do something about it.
Suppose, however, that the spilled drink was on the floor for three hours, but no grocery store employee saw the spilled drink. Is the grocery store liable? The grocery store may still be held liable because you can argue that the grocery store had constructive notice of the spilled drink, having been on the floor for the past three hours.
Suppose, instead, that despite the presence of a booth giving out free food and drinks, the grocery store had an hourly inspection schedule where one of its employees would inspect the floor. None of the employees reported a spill on its hourly inspection schedule. Still, you slipped. Is the grocery store liable? In this case, the grocery store may not be held liable because its hourly floor inspection schedule shows that it was not negligent and did not breach any duty of care towards you.
The third element, causality, is also a point of contention in negligence litigation. Grocery stores will always try to deny liability when you’ve slipped and fallen in their premises. They will claim that the reason for your injuries is not the slip and fall. This is usually argued when there is a long period of time that has lapsed between the accident and the reported medical injury.
For example, you slipped in the grocery store but did not immediately go to the doctor to get his injuries treated. Instead, he went to the doctor 4 months after the accident, and only then did he learn that his fall caused him severe back injuries. The grocery store will argue that there is no relation between the slip and fall in their premises and your back injuries, given the length of time that has lapsed between the slip and fall and the complained injuries. However, if you immediately went to the doctor after the slip and fall, causation between his injuries and the slip and fall can easily be established.
The fourth element, damages, can easily be proven with documentary evidence. Your claim for damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earning capacity, property damage, physical pain, loss of enjoyment in life, emotional trauma, and pain and suffering.
Medical reports, medical bills and other expenses can show physical and financial injuries. If you are claiming for lost wages and future lost earning capacity, you need your pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns to show how much you were earning and a medical report from your doctor stating the time you need to stay home for recovery. Medical experts can testify regarding the pain and suffering caused by the injury you sustained in the grocery store’s premises.
If you have slipped and fallen in the grocery store, remember the tips provided above on what to do immediately after slipping and falling, such as reporting the incident immediately to the store manager. Also get a lawyer, like us, on board from the outset so you can build your case immediately while evidence is still fresh and can easily be gathered. For example, if you wait longer in filing your complaint, surveillance camera footage may be deleted due to the grocery store’s need for memory space in its computer, and not necessarily to disprove your claim. This deletion might not be taken against the grocery store. If you act quickly, the greater your chances of getting a higher settlement.
If you are wondering what to do because you’ve slipped and fallen in the grocery store, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or 718-509-9774 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.