Many people think that if they fall in a store, the store is automatically liable for any injuries. The truth is that in South Carolina the law works in the store’s favor. If you slip and fall on a foreign substance, such as water, you must prove one of three things :
- that someone from the store knew that the substance was there and did not clean it up;
- that the substance was there for such a long period of time that the store should have known; or,
- that the store created the hazard (leaking ceiling, mopping, etc).
If you slip on ice that was put on the floor by a third-party (such as someone in front of you filling up their soda cup) then the store will probably not have to pay for your injuries. Back in my former life of representing large stores, I once represented a large pet supply store. The case involved a man slipping on dog vomit and seriously injuring himself. I argued that the store was not responsible because there was no evidence that anyone from the store knew that the dog vomit was on the floor or how long it had been there. It is up to the injured person to prove those points.
The store may also not be responsible if they have adequately warned of the hazard. That is why you see so many Wet Floor signs when someone is mopping or if it is raining outside.
The store will be responsible if they created the hazard. Some common examples are cleaning the floor without adequate warnings and leaks in the roof causing puddling on the floor. I once had a case against a large grocery store chain where my very sweet, well-appointed lady walked into the store, grabbed a carry basket and slipped ten feet into the store. She landed in a puddle of water and was injured. It turns out that all of the refrigeration for the entire store is linked together with water running through all the coolers. This system had broken and had been acting up for days. When it would go down, water would leak out from the bottom of all the coolers in the store. The staff had been mopping up the water throughout the week and put up wet floor signs, however, they did not have any signs in the area where my client fell. Once my client treated for her injuries, we reached a nice settlement with the store.
What can you do to help your lawyer if you have been injured from slipping and falling?
- Figure out what it is you slipped in.
If at all possible, figure out what you slipped in. Was it floor wax? water? spilled product? This may sound like common sense, but you would be surprised at how many people tell me they have no idea what they slipped in. This makes it hard to prove that it is the store’s responsibility if you can’t even prove what it is you slipped in.
- Figure out where the substance came from.
Is it water from a leak? from a spilled drink? rain water that has been tracked in?
- Look for any cameras that may have captured the fall.
Knowing where the cameras are in the store is helpful.
- Report the incident immediately.
It is important that the incident is reported to a store manager and that an incident report is written. Get the names of any employees that you speak with.
- Get medical help immediately if you need it.
- Seek legal advice as soon as possible.
A lawyer can make sure that any evidence, such as the videotape of the incident is not destroyed. Many times stores quickly tape over or erase security footage unless specifically requested to save it for later litigation.
Many different factors go into the evaluation of a slip and fall case. If you have any questions please contact Venus Poe law firm today at (864) 963-0310 or click here to fill out an online case evaluation form. Every case is different and deserves an evaluation. There is no obligation or charge to see if we can help you with your claim.