Small businesses and their employees are very familiar with the wet floor sign. The idea is if you put the wet floor sign over or around a spill, you can avoid a costly lawsuit. But what happens if you do fall and injure yourself while you are shopping for groceries? Do you have a case?
This is a question we get fairly often at BenGlassLaw. The answer is this: it depends on the circumstances. Very few personal injury claims are cut and dry, and in Virginia slip and fall cases are very difficult to pursue in court. There are three major determining factors that will affect the outcome of your slip and fall case, if you have a case at all.
Was The Hazard Open and Obvious?
When we speak to victims of a slip and fall injury, we first need to know the details of the hazard present at the scene. If the hazard was both open and obvious, the chances are a case cannot be made. For example, if tomato sauce was spilled on a white floor, and the spill was in an open area with a clear line of sight, then it would be extremely difficult to claim that you were unaware of the spill before stepping in it. If the spill or hazard was difficult for a reasonable person to see, you may have the beginnings of a slip and fall case.
Was the Business Negligent?
If you can conclude the hazard was not open and obvious, you then have to prove the business was negligent. Should the business have noticed the spill? Restaurants and fast food vendors are well aware of the possibility of a wet floor hazard, and are typically responsible for checking the floors in regular intervals. However, if you fell on a very recent spill that the restaurant had very little or no time to notice and address, the court may not find the business negligent.
Did You Contribute to Your Injury?
Virginia has very a strict contributory negligence law that bars recovery if the victim should have noticed or been aware of potential hazards. If it is freezing rain and you slip and fall on ice outside of a business, it is unlikely you can recover compensation for your injury because you should have been aware of the weather conditions. Contributory negligence kills many personal injury cases in Virginia. If you are even 1% at fault for your injury, you cannot make a slip and fall case in Virginia.
These are three major pillars in a Virginia slip and fall lawsuit, but there are many, many other factors that can contribute to the outcome of your case. This is why many attorneys vet these cases very carefully and thoroughly. If you have a slip and fall case and you would like an attorney to go over the details with you, call BenGlassLaw at (703)584-7277. You can read more about personal injury cases by downloading a FREE copy of my book Five Deadly Sins that can Wreck Your Injury Case.