When you walk into a store, a slip and fall accident is likely the furthest thing from your mind. If you slip and fall during a shopping trip, you might wonder if the store is legally liable for your damages. In many cases, the answer is yes.
A store can have legal liability to a victim for a slip and fall accident that occurs at the store, but not in every situation. It’s important to work with a skilled personal injury lawyer to determine liability in your case. Here’s what you need to know about store liability for a slip and fall accident in Las Vegas.
What Is Premises Liability?
The legal term for a store’s liability for a slip and fall accident is premises liability. Premises liability means that a business owner has the duty to keep their property safe for customers who come to the property to shop.
The business has to take steps to inspect their property and keep it safe. If the store owner knows that there are things that are unique to their type of business that can create dangers for their customers, they need to take steps to prevent accidents.
It’s Not an Insurance Policy
Store liability for a slip and fall isn’t an insurance policy. They aren’t automatically liable to pay anyone who gets hurt on their property. Instead, a store is responsible for a slip and fall if they aren’t careful enough to avoid a dangerous condition that results in your injury.
Each determination is very specific to the facts. The jury looks at the particular circumstances of each individual case to determine if the store failed to keep the property safe in a way that gives them legal liability for a victim’s losses.
What Are Some Examples Where a Store Can Be Liable for a Slip and Fall?
There are almost countless ways that a store can face liability for a slip and fall accident:
- Products that fall in aisles
- Trees or other debris that fall on sidewalks and other places where customers walk
- Putting product displays too close together
- Letting too many people in the store at one time
- Allowing customers to push and shove to be the first one to get to an item
- Leaving water or other liquids on the floor
- Failing to keep shopping carts out of the way in the parking lot
- Paper towels on the bathroom floor that cause a slip
- Using floor wax that’s too slippery
- Failure to clean ice, snow, or leaves from places where customers go
All Stores Are the Same Under the Law
Nevada law treats all businesses the same when it comes to their liability for a slip and fall. It doesn’t matter if the store is a big box chain or the only one of its kind. All stores have a duty to keep their property safe from dangers that can hurt customers.
What About the Open and Obvious Doctrine?
One common legal term when it comes to store liability for slip and fall cases is the open and obvious doctrine. The open and obvious doctrine is the idea that customers have a duty to avoid dangers that are readily apparent in the store. Even though the store has a duty to keep the property safe, customers also have a duty to avoid obvious dangers.
In Nevada, if a shopper gets hurt because they slip and fall due to a condition that’s obviously dangerous, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t still recover for their damages. In Foster v. Costco, the Nevada Supreme Court said that it’s not necessarily the end of the story if a person slips because of an open and obvious danger on the property.
Instead, it’s up to the jury to look at all of the circumstances and decide who should have acted differently. In the Foster v. Costco case, a victim slipped and fell on a wooden pallet that was in an aisle. The court said that the store might have acted negligently, and a jury should consider all of the facts of the case and make a decision.
A Worker Shortage Is No Excuse
Even though a store may be short on employees, that’s no excuse for failing to inspect the property and remedy dangers. A store owner has an obligation to employ the number of people they need to keep the property safe. It’s no excuse that a store owner couldn’t find enough people to man the store to keep it safe.
You May Bring Your Case Against the Store Owner or the Landlord
In some cases, you might bring your case against a store owner. In other cases, the store owner might lease property from a landlord who fails to do what they should to maintain the property.
Also, some stores may be a part of a chain, and it may be appropriate to bring a claim against the franchise, the local store, or both. Your attorney can help you determine who to name on your claim.
Other Incidents May Be Important
In a store slip and fall claim, records of other injuries and falls can be significant to proving your case. You can review previous claims to see if the store operators knew about dangers because of other accidents that already occurred. Prior incidents can serve as a warning to the business that they should do more to protect customers.
What If the Shopper Goes Places That Customers Aren’t Allowed?
If a shopper goes places that they’re not supposed to go, the standards can change. If a shopper tries to go in employee-only areas, the standards are lower for what the store has to do to keep them safe.
A shopper in places where they don’t belong is essentially a trespasser. In some cases where a customer wanders into forbidden areas, the store is still liable for a slip and fall, but it’s harder to prove the case.
Working With an Injury Attorney
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident at a store, you might have a right to financial compensation. Nevada law says that it’s only fair for a store to pay for your damages when you’re hurt because the store didn’t take the necessary steps to keep you safe. An experienced attorney can help you prepare and file your slip and fall claim so you can get the compensation you need to recover.