The holiday season brings a bag of mixed emotions for many people. While many people eagerly await the time to spend with family and friends and create great memories, some people are stressing over the idea of shopping for gifts. Even with the additional online shopping option, some people want to walk into a store and pick out their items physically, and to see in-person what they purchase.
Shopping for the holidays is already hectic and stressful; who wants to add to the hectic nature by getting hurt while out shopping? Unfortunately, accidents are not put on hold just because of the holidays.
The circumstances of the holiday season increase the risk of slip and fall accidents. Stores are busier and witnessing more foot traffic. Employees may be overworked and fail to notice any dangerous conditions in the store that can cause an accident. While the holiday season is usually busy, employers face the risk of remaining short-staffed during the holidays due to the shortages in the retail industry. Because of the recent shortages, current employees may fail to notice and remain on top of all obstacles that can cause a slip and fall accident.
What are some of the common causes of slip and fall accidents?
One of the common causes for a slip and fall accident in a store or mall is certain weather conditions such as ice, rain, and snow. The water can cause floors to become wet and slippery, leading to a greater chance of a slip and fall accident.
One such scenario for a slip and fall accident is one that many of us are familiar with: recently mopped floors. Typically, employers and employees are required to post a Wet Floor Sign to warn customers of the potential hazard. However, employees may be so overworked and short-staffed that they forget to post a Wet Floor Sign immediately after or before cleaning the accident up.
Another common cause of slip and fall accidents is “bunched-up” carpeting. When carpet or rugs move, it is easier for children (or anyone else) to trip and fall on the floor.
Cluttered aisles can also lead to trips and falls. With extended store hours and the additional crowds of people, it is common for employees to leave pallets of items in the middle of the store aisle while restocking. They also tend to overstuff the aisles themselves. This situation can cause an unfortunate slip and fall accident if the customer slips on a piece of merchandise in the middle of the aisle. (There’s also an additional risk of being hit by a falling object.)
How do missing or dangerous railings lead to a slip and fall accident?
Many buildings are required to contain handrails for certain types of stairs. Most building codes require that one or more stair handrails have a specific width or height and be appropriately installed. Missing, broken, or inadequately installed handrails can cause a person to fall on the stairs, especially if the stairs are located outside and exposed to weather.
Another way a handrail can contribute to a fall is if it is not installed safely – or at all – in a public bathroom. Most department stores meet federal guidelines for the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) by having larger bathroom stalls equipped with handrails. If those rails are loose or missing, a person may fall and be unable to help him or herself back up.
Who can be held liable when someone slips and falls in a store?
A property owner has a legal duty to provide a safe, hazard-free environment for their patrons. When property owners do not maintain or keep up with their property, the owner’s negligence can cause a slip and fall accident to happen. However, several factors determine whether the property owner is held liable in a premises liability claim involving a fall.
One factor is that there must be a potential hazard – a spill, a torn spot on the carpet, or another dangerous surface. A person whose face is buried in his or her phone and misses a step on an escalator may not have a good claim for negligence, because he or she was not paying attention.
Another factor that can be proven is that the property owner or employee had to have known of the hazardous hazard but chose not to resolve the issue. It’s one thing for a store manager to not know a spill has occurred in Aisle 7. It is quite another to see a wet entrance way and not put up a sign.
Finally, injury victims must prove they were allowed to be in the store. In Missouri, the duty owed to invitees is much higher than it is to trespassers. As a holiday shopper in a retail store, you are considered an invitee.
How insurance companies avoid liability in a slip and fall accident
Property owners and insurance claim adjusters will try to accuse the person injured in a slip and fall accident of acting carelessly and imply that the person’s carelessness contributed to the slip and fall accident. While no one needs to plead their case to an insurance claim adjuster, individuals should be aware of certain factors like warning signs around the hazardous area or whether a careful person would have noticed the area and avoided it.
Our goal at The Hayden Law Firm is to fiercely defend your rights after you are injured due to another’s negligence. Our premises liability lawyers work to reclaim what you’ve lost and secure the compensation you need. Please call our offices at 314-480-3100, or complete our contact form for a free, no-risk consultation. We proudly serve clients in St. Louis and throughout Missouri and Illinois.
Attorney Amanda L. Hayden has dedicated her legal career to fearlessly advocating for clients and their families after their lives have been devastated by the careless and/or reckless conduct of others.
Read more about Amanda L. Hayden