Retail companies often face premises liability lawsuits filed by customers who have suffered slip-and-fall injuries while shopping at their stores. However, just because an injury occurred on store grounds does not mean that store owners should be held liable for damages. If you are being sued for damages for an accident that occurred in your store, your attorney will help come up with an effective strategy to prove that you are not responsible for the injuries that occurred. Here are some common premises liability defenses.
Lack of notice
To prove a premises liability claim, the injured customer must show that the store owners had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition that caused the accident.
- Actual notice: Store owners had express knowledge of the hazard (e.g., hazard caused injuries in the past).
- Constructive notice: Store owners have a duty to know about the condition of its property by conducting reasonable inspections, and therefore should have known of the hazard.
If a store owner can prove that they had no knowledge of the hazard and no reason to know of the hazard, they may be able to prove that they are not liable for the accident.
Fault of the alleged victim
Many slip-and-fall accident victims are contributorily negligent, meaning they contributed to their own accident and injuries. In New York, a pure comparative negligence state, the damages awarded to an injured customer will be reduced based on the percentage of fault attributed to them. A customer may be partially or fully liable for their own accident if they:
- Ignore posted warning signs.
- Fail to pay attention to their surroundings.
- Use their cell phone while walking through store.
- Fail to wear slip-resistant shoes.
- Wear ill-fitting clothes (pants that are too long etc.).
Open and obvious hazard
If the hazard was open and obvious, the store owner can argue that the customer should have exercised reasonable care to observe the hazard and avoid it.
These are just a few of the defenses you may be able to use when defending your company against slip-and-fall lawsuit. Your attorney can review the specifics of your case and come up with a more personalized strategy that will work best for you.