Every day millions of people patronize the many businesses and stores across Washington, including places like Wal-Mart, Target, Fred Meyer or your local grocery stores such as QFC, Safeway and Albertsons. Whether you shop at large chain stores or at smaller local businesses, you always put yourself at risk of injury whenever you go into a store, particularly those that have self-service areas.
Slip and fall injuries are very common in stores that have areas that are likely to be slippery, such as the produce area at the grocery store or the self-service drink area at a convenience store. The most important component to any slip and fall case is notice of the condition. Washington courts require that the property owner have knowledge and notice of the condition, particularly when the condition is created by another store patron (such as a dropped drink or spilled container). It is not enough that the condition be present in the store – the store owner or its employees must have some reason to know about the condition.
Washington courts as of late have not been very kind to victims of slip and falls inside large stores and restaurants, particularly when it is difficult to show how long the condition was present at the store. For example, the Washington Court of Appeals refused to allow a case to go forward when a plaintiff could not show how long a shampoo bottle had been spilled before a patron slipped and fell in the slippery shampoo.
If the slip and fall occurs in a self-service area of the store where the type of hazard is one that is expected to occur due to the nature of the business or product, these rigid notice conditions may not preclude your claim. The Washington Supreme Court in a case called Pimentel v. Roundup held that a plaintiff need not show notice of the condition in situations where the nature of the business exposes a customer to foreseeable harm. The self-service lumber area at a large home store jumps to mind.
We commonly see cases where people slip or trip and fall on wet or slippery substances inside businesses. Injuries also occur due to improperly maintained or cleared aisles or walkways or floor mats not properly maintained. When employees of the store create the hazard – for example, by not putting up signs to warn of mopped areas or dripping ice during stocking – you can bring a claim.
If you or a loved one are injured inside a department store, grocery store, restaurant, or any other type of business premises, call us for a free consultation. We have handled many cases like yours and our experience can help us guide you in the right direction.
811 First Ave Suite 510
Seattle, WA 98104