If someone slips and falls on your store premises, their first thought may be to blame you as the store owner, as well as store employees and managers. However, just because a slip-and-fall accident occurred at your store, does not mean that you should be held liable for the injured party’s damages. In fact, many slip-and-fall accidents are caused by the injured party’s own negligence.
What are some popular slip-and-fall defense strategies?
When a slip-and-fall accident occurs, there are various possible defenses that store owners can use to defend against the negligence claims filed by the injured customer. Here are some of the most common premises liability defenses used
If the injured party was partially or fully responsible for their own injuries and damages. For example, they may have acted negligently by:
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes
- Walking through the store while distracted
- Ignoring or failing to pay attention to warning signs
A store owner may not be liable for the customer’s injuries if they can prove that the store patron’s negligence was the sole cause of their own accident. However, in pure comparative negligence states like New York, store owners may still be held liable for slip-and-fall damages even if they are only one percent at fault. The customer’s damages will be reduced based on the percentage of fault apportioned to them by the jury. For example, a customer who is 70 percent responsible for their own accident can only recover $30,000 of the $100,000 in damages awarded to them.
Open and obvious hazard
If the hazard that caused the slip-and-fall (e.g., slippery floor, aisle obstruction), was open and obvious so that a reasonable customer would have seen it and would not have fallen, the store owner may not be liable for damages
Lack of notice
In order to eliminate the hazard, the store owner must have had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard. However, if the store owner did not know of the hazard and could not have discovered the hazard during a reasonable inspection, they may not be liable for the accident.
Defending against slip-and-fall claims can be difficult for any store owner. An attorney specializing in premises liability defense may be able to protect you and your store from slip-and-fall liability.