Chances are very good that at some point over the course of the next week, you will set foot inside of some sort of retail establishment to make a purchase, whether it’s a local grocery store, pharmacy or mega discount chain.
Chances are also very good that as you make your way up and down the aisles, your thoughts will be focused almost exclusively on finding your items or some other mundane matter. In other words, the last thing on your mind will be the safety of the store itself.
Taking this sort of thing for granted makes perfect sense. Indeed, the law generally holds that retail establishments have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe from hazardous conditions or hidden dangers that they are aware could cause injuries to their customers.
By way of illustration, retail establishments must exercise reasonable care in removing spills from floors, keeping walkways clear, maintaining well-lit conditions, providing adequate customer security and repairing broken stairs.
What happens, however, when a retail establishment breaches this duty and a customer suffers serious injuries after slipping on a wet floor, being struck by falling merchandise or running into a retail display?
The answer is that the retail establishment can be held liable in a court of law under a state’s negligence laws.
Indeed, in order to prevail in court, the injured customer must generally demonstrate the following elements:
- The retail establishment either knew or should have known about the on-site hazard.
- The retail establishment failed to conduct the necessary maintenance or the necessary inspections that would have revealed the on-site hazard.
- The serious injuries suffered by the customer were directly caused by this on-site hazard.
- The customer suffered actual damages because of this on-site hazard.
What all of this serves to underscore is that if you suffer serious injuries — sprains, strains, broken bones, head injuries, spinal trauma — while shopping, you must know that you have options for holding the store accountable. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise and be certain to consider discussing your options with an experienced legal professional.