Is a Store Liable for a Customer Injury?
Every day, millions of New York residents shop for their daily needs and wants. When a customer enters a local store, they have the right to go about their business in a safe environment. Yet, it only takes a moment for people to slip on some spilled water or trip on a loose cord and hurt themselves. It’s unpleasant to feel embarrassed, but even worse to be left with an injury and expensive hospital bills.
Who is responsible for the damages? The answer determines how your bills can be paid. If you or a loved one has had the unfortunate experience of being hurt on a retail or commercial property, you may be able to pursue legal action for your injuries. A store may be liable for your damages if their negligence caused your injury.
Hill & Moin has extensive experience in helping New Yorkers with their personal injury cases. Our firm offers you the opportunity to have your case evaluated free of charge with no obligation. You can talk to us and have the confidence that we will listen with empathy and take the initiative to discern your legal needs.
Call Hill & Moin at (212) 668-6000 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Potential At-Fault Parties for an Injury in a New York Store
Generally, the majority of in-store accidents are predictable and therefore should be preventable. When a customer is injured in a store, some may be quick to blame the owner. However, a property owner is not always responsible for a customer’s injuries.
Store accidents may occur due to the negligent actions of any person visiting the property, including:
- The property owner
- The business owner
- A staff member
- A customer
- A maintenance person
- Delivery people
- Other visitors
If you believe the property or store owner is responsible for the accident, you will need to prove their careless or negligent actions caused your injury. This may be difficult to establish on your own, but an experienced personal injury lawyer can analyze your case details and build a strong case for you.
What Are the Premises Liability Laws in the State of New York?
When a person is injured on someone else’s property, the case falls under the legal concept of premises liability. There are many factors that must be considered in these cases, so it is imperative to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
New York premises liability law requires property owners, managers, and renters to maintain their premises to a safe and reasonable standard. They may be held responsible for damages if it is discovered their negligence caused a customer’s injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York store, determining liability will depend on the answers to the following questions:
- Did hazardous conditions in the store cause your accident?
- Should the store owner have known about the dangerous conditions?
- Did the store owner fail to take reasonable steps to prevent or rectify the hazardous conditions?
If you answered “yes” to the above questions, you may be able to file a claim against the store owner to recover compensation for your injuries. Time is limited to file a premises liability case, so we recommend discussing your legal options with a seasoned personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
How to Establish the New York Store Owner’s Negligence
Whether we are alone or with loved ones, we should be able to feel reasonably safe when shopping in a store or visiting a commercial property. New York law requires all property owners to maintain their premises safely and reasonably for visitors and customers. Sadly, when a store owner fails to carry out his or her duty of care, accidents can happen, sometimes causing long-term injuries to those involved.
To prove negligence caused injuries in a premises liability case, the following elements must be established:
- Duty of care: The store owner owed a duty of care to maintain their premises in a safe and reasonable condition for visitors
- Breach: The store owner failed to provide that standard of care by neglecting to maintain or repair the dangerous condition
- Causation: The hazardous condition resulted in an accident that caused injury
- Damages: The injuries caused financial damages to the victim
Types of Accidents That Can Cause Injuries in a Store
Whether it is a large department store, a grocery store, or a small deli, all commercial and retail properties in New York State must ensure their premises are safe for their visitors. Some stores may have hundreds of customers come in and out through the day, increasing the chances of accidents occurring.
The most common type of accidents in a store are slips, trips, and falls, but there are many different ways a customer could get hurt. Depending on the risks and hazards present in a store, the following accidents might occur:
- Cuts from sharp products or shelving
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Electric shock accidents
- Falling objects
- Fires or explosions
- Gas leaks
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Tripping hazard accidents
- Violent assault
Hazardous Store Conditions That Can Cause Accidents
A store’s environment can vary depending on the purpose of the business. A grocery store will differ from a pet store or an electronics store. Yet, no matter what the commercial goal is, visitors must be kept reasonably safe once they enter the premises.
The reality is that spills and breakages occur in stores all the time. Yet, it is the responsibility of the store owner to identify the hazard, warn others of the danger, and rectify the problem.
Hazardous store conditions that may contribute to a customer being injured include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Broken handrails
- Dangerous equipment left unattended
- Falling merchandise, signage, or debris
- Flooding or water leaks
- Leaking gas or other harmful toxins
- Hazardous conditions not properly marked on the premises
- Inadequate maintenance of the property
- Insufficient or unclear signage
- Insufficient security leading to injury or assault
- Liquid or product spills on the floor
- Poor lighting in a car park area
- Sharp shelving
- Shattered glass
- Toxic chemical spills
- Trip hazards in the walkway or aisle
Common Types of Injuries Customers May Experience in a Store
Serious injuries don’t just occur on roads or construction sites. Even a small slip in a grocery store aisle can leave a person in pain for months or even years. No matter how small the accident seems, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Some injuries may not be apparent at the time of the incident, but the onset of pain may become evident over the next few weeks or days.
Common personal injuries that occur in stores include the following, but are not limited to:
- Brain trauma
- Broken bones
- Cuts, bruises, and lacerations
- Eye injuries
- Hearing injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Internal injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Sprains or strained muscles
- Thermal or chemical burns
What to Do If You Are Injured on a Retail Property
When a customer is hurt in a store, his or her automatic response may be to brush it off without making a scene. This could be because of embarrassment or perhaps even feeling the fault is his or her own. However, it is important to remember that the negligent party must be held accountable for their actions or inaction.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a store, be sure to protect your rights and follow these steps:
1. Seek medical assistance
Check for injuries. If you are seriously hurt, have someone call 911 straight away. Otherwise, if it seems your injuries are minor and you can move, get to a safer area.
Be sure to monitor your injuries and see a doctor for a check-up. Some injuries may not appear until much later, such as a concussion or brain trauma. In any case, it is best to have a medical professional assess your injuries to rule out any serious damage.
2. Report the incident to the store owner or manager
Even if you do not want to make an issue of the incident, it is important to report it to the property owner or store manager straightaway. It may prevent others from being hurt and give the owner an opportunity to fix the situation.
It may be especially helpful to have a record of the incident report on hand should you decide to file a claim later on. When completing an incident report, be sure to complete it honestly but also take care not to unintentionally imply you were at fault.
3. Gather as much relevant evidence as possible
Holding on to ample evidence from the time of the incident can give you a good foundation for your personal injury case. Evidence may no longer be available once you leave the store, so gather what you can while you can.
If possible, you or a friend should take as many pictures or video footage of your injuries and the surrounding area while you are still at the accident scene. Preserving the clothing you were wearing at the time of the accident may prove helpful later on, particularly if there are marks, stains, or tears in the fabric.
4. Ask for the name and contact details of witnesses
Talk to any eyewitnesses that were present at the time of the accident. If possible, ask the witnesses to write down their perspectives of events and sign the document with their contact details.
- Seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer
Hill & Moin offers accident victims a free consultation to help the injured understand their rights and explore their legal options. An experienced lawyer will listen to the facts carefully and give you an honest case evaluation.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer
Hill & Moin LLP has achieved remarkable success in helping clients recover millions of dollars in compensation. With more than 50 years of combined experience, we use our knowledge and capability to help those in need of quality legal representation.
If you have questions about your New York personal injury case, schedule a free case evaluation with a qualified lawyer to find out your rights. We understand it might be overwhelming to seek legal advice, but we try to make the process as easy as possible.
Working alongside Hill & Moin law firm is like having a lawyer in the family. Our clients put their trust in us because they know their case is in good hands.
Contact us at (212) 668-6000 and find out your Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ.