What Hazards Can Leave Me Injured at a St. Louis Restaurant?

What Hazards Can Leave Me Injured at a St. Louis Restaurant?There are some elements of regular life that many people miss due to the coronavirus pandemic. The social events that everyone took for granted, like going to the movies or attending a concert without the requirement of a mask, have been transformed forever due to the pandemic restrictions.

However, one social outing that is slowly making a comeback are restaurant outings. While we love being able to go out to eat, restaurants can be hazardous places for workers and diners alike. Outdoor dining in particular comes with risks, as space that is normally reserved for pedestrians is taken up by tables and scurrying servers. High winds can send umbrellas crashing into tales, and outdoor heaters pose risk of burns and CO exposure if the outdoor area is covered by not properly ventilated.

Whether you are dining inside or outside of a restaurant, if you are injured because of the property owner/operator’s negligence or reckless behavior, you can seek damages for those injuries. Typically, this is done with a premises liability claim.

What is premises liability?

The last thing that anyone wants to happen while enjoying quality time with friends and family is an accident. When a person experiences an accident in a public establishment and suffers injuries, that person can file a premises liability lawsuit against the establishment. Property managers and owners have a legal responsibility to provide a safe environment for every patron who frequents their property.

When a property owner fails to uphold this responsibility, he or she can be held liable for any patron’s injuries. For a property owner to be found liable for a premises liability lawsuit, it must be proven that the property owner acted in a negligent manner in reference to the maintenance of the property.

Slip and fall accidents in St. Louis restaurants

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common premises liability accidents in restaurants. The nature of the restaurant industry increases the chances of a slip and fall accident to happen frequently. In addition to employees constantly mopping and cleaning behind tables, patrons can spill liquids in various areas of the restaurant. In inclement weather, there is also an increased risk of patrons tracking in sleet, snow, or rain, making the entrances especially hazardous. Bathrooms in particular pose a slipping risk, especially if the restaurant is out of paper towels to dry your hands.

Slip and fall accidents that occur on wet and slippery surfaces are not the only types of accidents that can happen at a restaurant. Stairs within a restaurant (or outside of one) can have defects like uneven heights, broken corners, or rotting steps. Missing, loose, and broken handrails can also lead to a fall.

A fall doesn’t have to occur in the restaurant in order for an owner to be liable. Patrons who slip, trip, and fall in parking lots or garages can also make a claim for damages for their injuries.

What is negligent security?

Another type of premises liability accident is called negligent security. Part of providing a safe environment for all patrons involves the presence of security inside the establishment. When property owners fail to install the proper security measures to keep patrons safe from particular crimes, patrons can hold the property owner liable if he or she becomes a victim of violent crimes.

Some examples of negligent security include a lack of security surveillance, poor or inadequate lighting, and a lack of a security guard presence. Similar to a slip and fall accident, it must be proven that the property owner’s negligent attitude contributed to a crime taking place.

How is the restaurant owner’s liability determined in a slip and fall accident?

A property owner is not automatically liable for a patron’s slip and fall accident just because the patron slipped and fell inside the premises. To establish the property owner’s liability, there are three components that must be proven:

  1. The property owner is responsible for causing the restaurant hazard,
  2. The owner was aware of the restaurant hazard but took no action to resolve it, and/or

The owner should have been aware of the hazard because a rational person would have known it existed. When it comes to the actions of a rational person, the courts define a property owner’s rationale as the effort the owner takes to keep the property clean and safe for patrons on a consistent basis. Some examples of a property owner’s rational actions in removing a restaurant hazard are the presence of a regular maintenance schedule for the property, whether the hazard could have been placed in a safer space or removed in a safer manner, and the efforts that the owner took to warn patrons of the hazard. If it has been proven that the property owner handled the maintenance of the restaurant hazard in a negligent manner, the patron may have a legitimate claim against the owner.

It works like this: restaurant owners know that patrons and workers will spill drinks, drop greasy foods, and otherwise contribute to unsafe floors. Therefore, it is their responsibility to ensure that these messes are cleaned. When a floor is mopped, the owner must warn patrons that there is a wet floor; this is usually accomplished by putting up a sign. In this instance, if a patron ignores the sign and slips on the wet floor, the owner may avoid being held liable for any injuries.

However, say the floor itself is uneven because of a broken piece of tile, and a patron trips over it and falls, breaking his wrist. In this case, the owner should be liable for those injuries because it was his or her responsibility to ensure that the floors were safe, and any reasonable person would know that a broken tile poses a tripping hazard.

Does a restaurant patron’s actions matter in a premises liability claim?

They can. The restaurant owner’s lawyer may attempt to discredit the patron’s claims based on his or her own carelessness. Some components of the patron’s actions that will be taken into consideration include the following:

  • The patron’s reasons for coming around the area with the restaurant hazard
  • Whether a considerate person would have noticed the restaurant hazard
  • The presence of any noticeable warning signs around the restaurant hazard
  • Any of the patron’s actions that distracted him or her from paying attention

At The Hayden Law Firm, we advocate for your rights after you have been injured due to another’s negligence. We work hard to reclaim what you have lost and secure the compensation that 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.