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What you should know about falls and grocery stores

Grocery shopping: it's something we all have to do, yet this ordinary task can be a risky one, especially when store owners fail to ensure that their stores are safe for shoppers. Slip-and-fall injuries constitute a substantial portion of injuries sustained during shopping and while some of these may be minor, others can be much more serious. Children and older adults are especially likely to have more serious injuries if they slip and fall in a grocery store.

What causes falls?

Flooring. Linoleum, tile and certain wood surfaces can be slippery, even for shoppers in tennis shoes. Spills are another common reason for falls in grocery stores. Recently-mopped floors also pose a risk: these can be quite slick and too often, stores fail to take the proper precautions when mopping during business hours.

Poor maintenance. Property owners are obligated to maintain safe shopping conditions, yet some fail to do so. Poor lighting, cramped walking areas and poorly arranged merchandise can contribute to the shopper's risk. In addition, cracked pavement and icy walkways in outside areas can be treacherous.

Is the grocery store liable?

Sometimes grocery store owners and management fail to ensure a safe environment for their customers. Several conditions can result in store liability:

  • Negligence. When owners are aware of a hazardous situation in their store, they have a legal responsibility to remove the hazard; if they fail to do so and a shopper is injured, they may be at fault.
  • Failure to warn customers. In some cases, in-store dangers are either temporary or cannot be repaired permanently. In these cases, the store owner has an obligation to post readily visible warnings to protect their shoppers and ensure a safe shopping experience.
  • Carelessness. Messy or disorderly shopping areas can be dangerous, and stores that fail to take care of these issues may be held responsible for any injuries that result from their carelessness.

Are you entitled to compensation?

Slip-and-fall injuries can range from injured joints and broken bones to head and spinal cord injuries. In extreme cases, an in-store fall can result in wrongful death.

You have the right to shop in safety. Grocery shopping accidents can lead to loss of wages, short- and long-term medical expenses, and pain and suffering. If you've been injured in a slip-and-fall incident while grocery shopping, you may be able to seek compensation, particularly if the grocer was careless or negligent in maintaining safe, debris-free walking areas. Consulting an attorney is a first step toward securing the compensation that you are due.

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