Grocery Store Injuries
Every day, millions of people stream in and out of grocery stores across Florida. Most give little if any thought to the possible dangers there that pose a risk of personal injury.
Grocery store injuries can stem from a range of hazards, from a slippery floor to dangerously-stacked items on shelves to parking lot trip-and-falls or backover risks.
As the Fort Lauderdale grocery store injury lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm know, stores like Publix, Wal-Mart, Target and Costco all have a duty of care to keep consumers reasonably safe from hazards that are known or that should be known. In fact, these stores owe the highest duty of care to customers because they are business invitees.
Florida premises liability law affords them the greatest protection, requiring not only that these facilities keep the site in reasonably safe condition, but that they check it at regular intervals to be certain.Common Grocery Store Injuries
Although we don’t think of danger lurking in the aisles of our local store, the reality is there are probably thousands of people who are in and out of that store daily, including customers, employees and delivery persons. These individuals are tracking in the elements, handling materials, passing out samples, pulling boxes from the shelves, shifting bags, stacking cans, setting up display, hanging signs, using carts and pulling in and out of the parking lot. In each one of these activities, there is potential to create a dangerous situation.
Some of the more common hazards that the grocery store injury attorneys at our Fort Lauderdale firm see presented to grocery store customers:
- Slip-and-Fall Injuries. Slip-and-falls are probably the No. 1 complaint that results in grocery store injuries. It makes sense when you consider the many slippery hazards that can occur at a store. First and foremost, Florida is wet and rainy half the year, with showers happening almost daily in the summer and fall. Customers are tracking in the rain and mud every time they enter the store. Additionally, customers are frequently handling items, and occasionally spill or drop items on the floor, which can create a slip hazard. Florida’s slip-and-fall statute, F.S. 768.0755, requires plaintiffs in claims alleging a slip-and-fall on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment to prove the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge can be proven by showing the condition existed for a certain amount of time that it would have been discovered in the exercise of ordinary care or else it occurred with regularity and thus was foreseeable.
- Trip-and-Falls. These can occur either in the aisles, where items in a retail display or structure may extend partially into the walkway of a store. It might also occur in the parking lot, where a sidewalk is uneven or the pavement has some defect. Premises liability law would require stores to regularly check for dangers and remedy any dangers, particularly if they aren’t obvious to customers.
- Falling Merchandise. This can happen at any retail location, but it’s especially hazardous at so-called “big-box” stores. There have been thousands of injuries and even some deaths over the last 20 years at retail stores directly due to falling merchandise. Stores that utilize “sky shelves,” merchandise perilously piled from store-to-ceiling, should know that such practices pose a serious risk to patrons. In the 1997 case of Scharrel v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc ., the retailer acknowledged falling merchandise caused more than 31,000 injuries, including customers and employees over a six-year period. Other large chains have reported similar injury volumes. Items that are stacked high, improperly stacked or personnel who aren’t properly trained, may all play a role in these issues.
- Parking Lot Injuries. Property owners – including grocery store chains – have an obligation to keep their parking lots reasonably safe. That means making regular inspections to identify dangerous conditions and to repair those defects. Some property defects that could lead to injury at a grocery store in Fort Lauderdale might be poor lighting, broken wheel stops, oil slicks, cracked/ uneven pavement or inadequate/ confusing signage. In other cases, injuries are caused by driver negligence. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA ) reports 9,000 pedestrians are injured in parking lots and garages each year.
Just because you are injured at a grocery store does not necessarily mean you will be awarded damages. Some grocery stores will offer you a settlement even before you file, but many may try to do so before you have an opportunity to speak to a Fort Lauderdale grocery story injury attorney. You must be cautious in these cases because you area at a disadvantage and agreeing to the settlement could mean forfeiting any future rights to that claim forever.
A grocery store may not be liable for your injuries if:
- No dangerous condition existed at the time of your injury;
- Store had no prior knowledge, nor could it have known, about the dangerous condition;
- Store took all reasonable steps to protect the customer;
- Condition was so obvious plaintiff should have avoided it;
- The condition did not cause plaintiff’s injury;
- Injury occurred in an area of the store where customers were not supposed to be (changing customer’s status from “invitee” to “trespasser”);
- Customer was comparatively negligent or otherwise assumed the risk.
If you have suffered an accident in Fort Lauderdale, our experienced grocery store injury lawyers can help you weigh the viability of your case.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Fort Lauderdale grocery store accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or (954) 761-3641.