Merchandising experts have long known the value of placing the most popular and profitable items at eye level where they can be easily seen. Often, the store owner includes signage designed to grab one’s attention. If a shopper is walking through a grocery store, gazing at the displays and offerings, it is easy to slip and fall on an errant grape or damp spot on the floor.
New York law requires storeowners to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition in order that business invitees – shoppers, browsers, and others – avoid injury. Yet, New York law also requires the shopper or store visitor to exercise reasonable care as she or he walks around the premises. How do these conflicting requirements play themselves out in a New York slip and fall claim?
Proof Required of the Person Suffering the Fall
Generally speaking, the victim in a slip and fall case must show that the store owner (or occupier) was negligent in the maintenance of its premises. That is to say: The victim must show that the owner/occupier or one of its employees caused the spill, torn spot in the carpet, or other dangerous condition and that the owner/occupier either:
- Knew about the dangerous condition and did nothing about it, or
- Should have known of the condition (i.e., a reasonable owner/occupier would have discovered the problem) and should have remedied it.
Comparative Negligence on the Part of the Slip and Fall Victim
In almost every New York slip and fall case, the owner/occupier argues that the victim was at least partially at-fault in causing his or her own injuries. That argument is based on the fact that New York is a comparative negligence state. In other words, a New York court will “compare” the negligence of the store owner/occupier and the slip and fall victim. If, for example, the court determines that the store was 80 percent at fault and the victim was 20 percent at fault, the victim’s damages are reduced by that 20 percent figure.
Factors That May Show the Victim was Partially At-Fault
Hosts of factors result in at least some blame being assigned to the slip and fall victim, including whether:
- The victim was in a part of the store where customers and visitors aren’t normally allowed,
- The store owner was aware of the hazard and erected barriers to warn those who might be nearby,
- The victim was distracted by the use of a cell phone or other device, and
- The victim was wearing inappropriate footwear, considering the circumstances.
Legal Representation is Crucial in Slip and Fall Case
If you or a family member has suffered a slip and fall injury in a store, movie theater, shopping mall or other public place, you may be entitled to recover your medical expenses and additional sums for pain and suffering. You can still be entitled to some recovery, even if you or the family member was partially to blame. Retaining an expert slip and fall attorney is crucial to your success, however. E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy has the judgment and experience to establish your claim and negotiate the best possible settlement. We also have the skills and tenacity required to take your case to trial, if necessary.
We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district. We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete the online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.