You've tromped through a wet and snowy parking lot and walked into a shop, but the minute you walked in the door, you slipped and fell. Unfortunately, the store didn't have mats by their front door, and as a result, a puddle formed and you slipped. Now, you're wondering what your options are and what the storekeeper's responsibilities are. Here are some points to consider:
If you get hurt due to a dangerous situation in or around a business, you need to prove that the business owner is liable for your accident. Typically, in order for a business owner to be liable, the accident needs to have been caused by a situation that was avoidable. In this case, a puddle by the door is consistent with the weather, but the fact that the storekeeper did not provide floor mats or a warning sign indicate negligence and thus liability.
However, if it has just started raining or snowing a few seconds before you stepped in the door, it could be argued that the shopkeeper is not liable. In this case, there was not a puddle for a sustained period of time, and the shopkeeper had no time to put down a mat between the time it started raining and when you stepped in the store. If the shopkeeper can prove that the incident was a mere accident, he or she is not liable.
If you can prove that the shopkeeper should have known about the wet conditions and had ample time to do something about it, you may be entitled to compensation. In most cases, if you can prove that the shopkeeper was liable, he or she will have to pay for your medical bills, and if you have lost any capacity (the ability to work, to maintain your marriage, to walk, etc), the liable party has to cover those associated costs as well pain and suffering. However, the amount of your compensation depends on two factors: the extent of your injuries and your culpability in the matter.
If part of the accident was due to your own negligence, you are usually not eligible for compensation for that part of the injury. For example, if you walked in the shop door, shook a puddle of rain from your umbrella onto the floor and then slipped, the courts may decide that you are partially to blame for the injury. If they decide that the moisture from your umbrella caused 50 percent of the accident, it reduces your claim by 50 percent. Most states use this comparative negligence standard. However, some use contributory negligence, which means that even if you are only partially at fault (say, 10 percent), you will not be able to recover any damages.
For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area.