When a retail business owner opens their doors to customers, they do so with a responsibility. There is a distinct duty of care business owners owe to those on their premises. It’s just the cost of doing business, shall we say. As such, they have a responsibility to provide a reasonably safe environment to their prospective customers. When they don’t they can be held liable for damages should someone be injured on-site.
However, proving fault in such an event is not so cut and dry. The injured party must demonstrate that there was a hazard on the premises during their visit and that that hazard was the cause of injury. Furthermore, they have to prove that the business owner or manager or otherwise responsible party was aware of the hazard and did not act to mitigate it or eliminate the danger it posed for those in the establishment.
(Read our blog post on proving liability in premises liability claims.)
Take, for example, a toy store that has a couple of toys strewn about in an aisle where a couple of children were recently playing. If someone was injured after having stepped over one toy only to step onto another and ended up breaking their leg after a fall, it would be important to prove that the toys were there in the first place. Photos might do the trick in that case. A witness that saw the toys before the accident might also help. However, the job is not complete. You still have to show that the manager was well aware of the mess and did not act to have it cleared for customers. In this case, an intercom call to clean up aisle 9, let’s say 20 minutes before your fall might help your claim. It might help to establish that those in charge were made aware of the hazard.
Without something to show that management knew of the hazard and did not act to remove it, fault for your injuries will be difficult to assign in your claim. Courts are hesitant to assign liability to a party if it’s not clear they even knew about the hazard in question.
Let’s say, however, you can demonstrate that a customer, for instance, warned management of the hazard well before the incident and they still had not cleaned it up by the time of your accident. This shows that management likely knew (or should have known) of the mess and had adequate time to have it removed so as to create a safe path for customers.
Another question in premises liability claims is whether or not the facility or location where the injury occurred was inherently risky or dangerous. If so, courts often assume that those present are aware of the danger they pose. Let’s say a guest of an adventure park with rock walls and zip lines and other high flying elements are a normal part of the experience is injured after falling from a rock wall. There is an inherent risk involved in participating in the offerings in that business. Proving fault in this case must go well beyond the simple injury resulting from hazard approach because to a degree, hazard is the name of the game at an adventure park.
On the other hand, should that hazard exceed the risk posed by standard use of the park (like, for instance flying down a zipline that is frayed and breaks), the facility might be held liable for injuries suffered.
Premises liability law is complex and those who look to file personal injury claims based on its principals should have an attorney with experience, knowledge of the law and a trackrecord for success in these claims like those of Bizzieri Law Offices in Chicago. We advocate for you to recover the highest damage awards to which you’re eligible. Call our offices at 773.881.9000 today. Consultation is free, and we never collect a fee unless we recover damages for you.