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Slip and Fall Accidents: What is The Liability for The Store?

premises liability attorneys in Dothan, Alabama

Under Alabama law, retail store owners must exercise “reasonable care and diligence” to ensure that their property is safe, or that there should be sufficient warning that the property is in a hazardous condition. It is the duty of a retail business that is open to the public and welcomes visitors on their property to make sure that their guests are reasonably safe. Sadly, retail outlets do not always uphold this duty, which can inadvertently cause visitors to sustain injuries. 

Some of the potential hazards that can lead to a slip and fall accident at a retail store include:

  • Overloaded or improperly stocked shelves, causing goods to fall on the floor
  • Food, beverages, and other slippery or sticky substances that get spilled on the floor
  • Uneven or cracked surfaces, cracked flooring, damaged stairwells, torn carpeting, and other structural problems
  • Poor lighting in areas, which make it more challenging for a visitor to notice a slip and fall threat
  • Overcrowded and congested areas, such as aisles or parking lots
  • Malfunctioning elevators and escalators

The plaintiff will need to prove the following elements to be able to hold a retail establishment responsible for a slip and fall accident that happens on their premises:

  • Existence of a dangerous condition on the property
  • The dangerous condition was the proximate reason for the slip and fall accident and consequent injury
  • The manager, owner, or an employee of the retail outlet was aware (or should have been aware) about the dangerous condition
  • Those in-charge of the premises at the time did not take reasonable measures to correct the situation or issue an adequate warning regarding the existence of the hazard to guests

Alabama Slip and Fall Cases: Contributory Negligence

In an Alabama slip and fall injury lawsuit, you (and your lawyer) will have to counter any argument of the defense with robust evidence. If you are unable to show that the property owner (or another responsible party) is one hundred percent legally liable for your slip and fall accident, you might not be able to collect any compensation at all.

Like a handful of other states, Alabama does not follow the principle of “comparative negligence.” Rather, the “contributory negligence” rule, which is much less favorable towards victims, is used in Alabama personal injury claims. According to this rule, if the victim is partially at fault for the accident, even a fraction of a percent, they cannot recover compensatory damages from any other responsible party.

When accusing you of some or all of the blame for the accident, the retail establishment owner (or another liable party) could claim the following:

  • You were not attentive to where you were walking (for instance, you were on your phone)
  • You were in an area of the store where guests are not typically allowed, or where guests are usually not expected to be
  • The hazardous condition was cordoned off by signage and cones (or reasonable measures were taken to protect visitors)
  • The hazardous condition should have been apparent to you
  • You were wearing inappropriate (or unsafe) footwear for the specific circumstances

The rule of contributory negligence in Alabama will remain a factor even if your case does not go to trial. At the time of settlement negotiations, the property owner’s insurer and their lawyer know that if they show that you are partially at-fault for your slip and fall injuries, you will not get any compensation. Therefore, it becomes vital to make a robust case against the retail outlet owner and other at-fault parties.

Filing a Case after a Slip and Fall Accident in an Alabama Retail Establishment

At times, a property or business owner, and their establishment’s insurer, will be open to an out of court settlement to resolve your claim. In other cases, your attorney will need to file a case against the business owner. From the date of the injury, you will have two years to file a lawsuit against the liable parties.

Recovering Compensation in an Alabama Slip and Fall Retail Store Accident

You may face significant medical bills and other expenses, depending on the gravity of your fall. Victims of such accidents often suffer from a fractured neck, back, or other bones. By showing that the business or property owner was reckless and is now accountable, you may be able to claim compensation for medical expenses, physical therapy, lost income, transportation costs for your medical and physical therapist appointments, funds for repairing or replacing your clothing, compensation for a cleaning service, or other assistance that you need as you recover.

More importantly, in a slip and fall personal injury case, you can claim damages for the pain and suffering you may have gone through. Besides the compensatory damages, you may be able to collect punitive damages in certain (rare) situations.

Seek Help from Committed Alabama Personal Injury Attorneys

A slip and fall accident in a retail store can be both physically and emotionally traumatic. These cases can prove to be more difficult than other kinds of personal injury claims. Therefore, it is best to work with the skilled, compassionate, and experienced slip and fall accident attorneys at the law offices of Smith & McGhee. Our lawyers have comprehensive knowledge of premises liability laws in Alabama, and we will fight hard to help you obtain your rightful compensation. For a free initial consultation, call today at (334) 702-1744.