Slip and Fall: Grocery Store Liability for Customer Accidents in Ohio

Slip and fall accidents are a common occurrence in grocery stores, often resulting in severe injuries and legal battles. In Ohio, grocery store owners have a legal responsibility to maintain a safe environment for their customers. When they fail to do so, and a customer suffers an injury due to their negligence, the store may be held liable for the damages. This article will discuss the legal aspects of slip and fall accidents in Ohio grocery stores, including the store’s duties, customer rights, and the process of seeking compensation.

The Duty of Care Owed by Grocery Stores

Under Ohio law, grocery store owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care in maintaining their premises in a safe condition. This duty extends to all areas of the store, including the parking lot, entrance, aisles, and checkout lanes. The store must regularly inspect the premises for potential hazards and promptly address any issues that could lead to accidents.

Common hazards in grocery stores include:

  • Wet or slippery floors due to spills or cleaning
  • Uneven or damaged flooring
  • Poorly maintained parking lots with potholes or cracks
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Obstructed walkways due to product displays or debris

When a grocery store fails to identify and rectify these hazards in a timely manner, they may be found negligent and liable for any resulting injuries.

Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case

To hold a grocery store liable for a slip and fall accident, the injured customer must prove that the store was negligent. This involves demonstrating four key elements:

Duty of care: The store owed a duty to maintain a safe environment for customers. This duty is established by the relationship between the store and its customers, as well as by state and local laws and regulations.

Breach of duty: The store failed to uphold this duty by allowing a hazardous condition to exist. This can be proven by showing that the store knew or should have known about the hazard and failed to take reasonable steps to address it. Factors that can demonstrate a breach of duty include:

  • The length of time the hazard existed before the accident
  • The store’s policies and procedures for identifying and addressing hazards
  • The visibility and location of the hazard
  • Whether the store had received prior complaints or incidents related to the hazard

Causation: The hazardous condition directly caused the customer’s slip and fall accident and resulting injuries. The customer must show that the accident would not have occurred if the hazard had been properly addressed. This can be challenging if there were other factors that contributed to the accident, such as the customer’s own actions or preexisting medical conditions.

Damages: The customer suffered actual damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering, as a result of the accident. These damages must be documented and quantified to support the claim.

Evidence that can support a negligence claim includes witness statements, surveillance footage, accident reports, and medical records.

Comparative Negligence in Ohio

Ohio follows a comparative negligence rule, which means that the customer’s own actions can affect their ability to recover damages. If the customer is found to be partially at fault for the accident, their compensation will be reduced by the percentage of their own negligence.

For example, if a customer slips on a spill in a grocery store aisle but was distracted by their phone at the time of the accident, they may be found 30% at fault. If the total damages are $100,000, the customer’s compensation would be reduced to $70,000 to account for their share of negligence. If the victim is found to be over 50% at fault, no damages are recoverable.

Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident

If you suffer a slip and fall accident in an Ohio grocery store, it is essential to take the following steps to protect your rights and strengthen your potential claim:

  1. Get Checked Over by a Professional: Your health should obviously take priority over anything else. Seek medical care immediately, even if your injuries seem minor, as some symptoms may not appear until later.
  2. Report the accident: Notify the store manager or an employee about the accident and request an incident report. Obtain a copy of this report for your records.
  3. Document the scene: If possible, take photos of the hazard that caused your fall, as well as any visible injuries. Collect contact information from any witnesses who saw the accident.
  4. Preserve evidence: Save the clothing and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident, as they may contain evidence of the hazard that caused your fall.
  5. Consult with an attorney: Contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the legal process and help you seek the compensation you deserve.

Compensation for Slip and Fall Injuries

If you successfully prove that the grocery store was negligent in maintaining a safe environment, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. This can include:

  • Medical expenses, including future treatment costs
  • Lost wages and future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The amount of compensation will depend on the severity of your injuries, the extent of the store’s negligence, and your own percentage of fault, if any.

Statute of Limitations in Ohio

It is crucial to note that Ohio has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including slip and fall accidents. You have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the grocery store. If you miss this deadline, you may be barred from seeking compensation, regardless of the strength of your case.

Slip and fall accidents in Ohio grocery stores can lead to severe injuries and costly damages. If you have been injured due to a store’s negligence, it is essential to understand your rights and take prompt action to protect your claim. By documenting the accident, seeking medical attention, and consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney, you can improve your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve.

If you’ve been involved in a slip and fall accident that wasn’t your fault, contact us today. We have 32 offices in 19 states, including Ohio, Missouri and Washington. Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.