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Who's liable for a slip and fall?

Imagine you're walking through the supermarket. You're going about your business, staring intently at your shopping list and scanning the shelves for much-needed items. Without warning, you hit a patch of wet floor and fall to the ground. One of the freezer cases leaked, and a puddle accumulated on the surrounding tile. Your foot rests at an unnatural angle, and a searing pain spreads through your leg.

The store manager calls emergency services, and an ambulance transports you to the hospital. X-rays reveal that your leg has a compound fracture, and you'll likely need surgery to repair the damage.

The question is this: who's responsible for your injuries, and for the funds required for your medical treatment, lost wages and other expenses?

Determining liability

Legal responsibility in slip and fall cases is a fact-specific determination. Business owners and property managers are responsible for maintaining their premises in a safe manner. The issue of safe and careful management comes down to the facts of each case, though.

If, in our hypothetical, the grocery store knew of the leak and failed to quickly clean up the water, warn others or monitor the area for new spills, they will likely be legally liable for the resulting injuries. If, instead, they'd just mopped the area and put up a "wet floor" sign a few minutes earlier, a judge might find that they'd done enough to adequately warn customers of the potential hazard while the freezer was repaired.

In our situation, the court could possibly find that the store was responsible, that you (as the customer) are responsible, or even that the service company who was supposed to have fixed the freezer unit the day before share the burden for the injury.

Personal injury cases of all types can be difficult to prove and require a skilled attorney's presentation. Having an attorney at your side will give you a statistically higher chance of success than "going it alone." Reach out to an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area if you've been hurt in a slip and fall or other type of accident.

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Chattanooga, TN 37402-2913

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