Virginia is a tough state for slip and fall personal injury cases. However, if you have been injured in a slip and fall at the grocery store or another local property, you may be eligible for recovery if you meet certain conditions. If you would like to speak with one of the BenGlassLaw team members about your case right away, you can call us at (703)584-7277.
What are the three conditions that must be considered?
Open and Obvious
This is often the first point brought up with these types of cases. Was the hazard open and obvious? If it was both open and obvious, then there likely wouldn't be a case to be made. An example that we like to use is the 1997 case of Davis v. Spotsylvania Mall Company. In that particular case, Ms. Davis slipped and fell (suffering multiple fractures) at the mall due to a three-inch wide spill of ketchup or barbecue sauce.
The spill was a dark red color similar to other colors found on the floor pattern. Backed by witness testimony from a kiosk employee who had worked near the spill for hours without noticing it, it was decided that the spill was open, but not obvious.
In the case discussed above, there was a need to prove that the Spotsylvania Mall Company was negligent with the spill. Should they have noticed it? The evidence showed that the spill's outer edges had become hardened and "crusty" on the outer edges, meaning that it had likely been on the ground for quite some time. Additionally, the incident had occurred in an area with other fast food restaurants, meaning that there likely should have been some kind of notice taken by cleaning or security staff patrolling the area. Therefore, the company was negligent because it hadn't patrolled an area which would seem to be at risk for spills for many, many hours.
This is the toughest part of the Virginia law with slip and fall cases. It can be argued by the defense that the plaintiff should have been able to take action to avert the injury. In the case at the mall, it was concluded that Ms. Davis had not been contributory toward her injuries, since it was not expected of a normal person walking to be constantly scanning the ground for small spills.