Grocery stores and supermarkets are experiencing a massive increase in customers due to the coronavirus epidemic. If you have been to a grocery store or supermarket recently, the stores are full of customers and the parking lots are mayhem. The stores are simply not prepared for the influx of customers and this has increased the danger to customers. Simply because there is a rush of business does not absolve the stores to keep the premises safe. This notion applies to both inside and outside the store.
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in slip and fall or trip and fall claims at grocery stores. We routinely handle these claims against Publix, Winn-Dixie, Aldi and Walmart. Because we handle such a high volume of these claims, I have put together this article to address how grocery store slip and falls work in Pinellas County and the greater Tampa Bay area.
Reasons for Grocery Store Slip and Falls
Slip and falls occur at grocery stores more frequently than you might imagine. The difference is that not all people are injured. But, an expected fall on the hard floor can cause an injury regardless of how old or how tough the person is. When someone is injured, they will probably be in shock and upset over how the fall occurred. The following are some of the reasons that we see people falling and getting injured in Pinellas County grocery stores.
This is the number one reason why people fall. Some of the falls occur in aisles from leaking refrigerators or spilled products, but in Florida, we have an additional unique reason for falls-rain water tracked into stores. I see this as a huge problem for stores to keep up with. With our heavy rains, stores are supposed to keep the floors dry or put up caution signs. This rarely happens and the areas of the stores near the entrance/exit often become saturated with water and very dangerous.
Cracked or Uneven Pavement
The problems with sidewalk cracks or uneven pavement normally exist outside of the store. But, as mentioned in the above, the store has a duty to maintain the parking lots and sidewalks just as safely as in the inside of the store. Sidewalk cracks are always a major danger for people.
Dangerously Located Displays or Stands
You would be surprised at the odd places that displays or stands are set up. This is typically even more of a problem when it is a temporary display that is set up for a tasting. But, people get surprised by these oddly placed displays and get injured all of the time.
Misplaced Shopping Carts, Pallets, or Baskets
This category of hazards are a challenge for grocery stores to keep up with. I’m sure that you have observed times at a grocery store when the carts and baskets are not being properly maintained and strewn all over the place. Sometimes carts will even roll into the legs of people in the wind. Stores that leave pallets out for extended periods of time also cause a danger to customers. When a pallet or other obstruction is left on the corner of the aisle and someone comes around the turn and trips on it, there can be a serious injury.
The Law on Grocery Store Slip and Fall Claims
Not every injury after a grocery store accident will be compensated. You must be able to show that the store created a dangerous condition or failed to maintain its premises and either knew about the danger, or the danger existed long enough that they should have known about it, and failed to warn or protect you.
As to the example of liquid on the floor, it must be proven that it was there long enough for someone to have noticed it and either cleaned it up, or put up a caution sign. In the situation when there is a rainy day and people are tracking water into the store, that is easier to prove because the grocery store would clearly be on notice that it is raining outside and should take proactive measures to make sure that the floor stays dry.
Should You Speak to an Adjuster From the Grocery Store?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall at a grocery store and it has your contact information, expect a call from an adjuster in a day or two. Don’t be surprised if they try to offer you some money. An offer of $2500 to make you go away is common even if they don’t know about the extent of your injuries. Don’t take the money and don’t have a discussion with them. They are simply trying to buy off your claim before you speak to an attorney or learn anything about your injuries. I had this happen within the last few months from a Publix slip and fall in the check-out lane. The adjuster offered my client $2500 to settle. We wound up resolving the claim for well over 10x that.
I always advise people that there is no reason to speak to an adjuster before you consult with a lawyer. A simple call to a lawyer could save you a lot of money.