Retail Store Accidents
Business owners, including retail store owners, in Pennsylvania are required to rectify egregious safety dangers on their commercial property. If a business owner is aware of a safety hazard, and you or your loved one suffered an injury in a retail store due to a failure to correct the issue, you may be entitled to a monetary settlement to cover your damages.
Shopping malls, big box stores and boutiques all must keep their premises a safe place for their customers. Because business owners desire the presence of “business visitors,” these visitors legally are owed the highest duty in premises liability cases. Businesses that fail to keep you safe could be held liable.
Philadelphia Retail Store Accident Defense Attorney
A Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer is your best source of advice to determine whether you have legal standing to pursue a retail store lawsuit. Call a Philadelphia retail store accident attorney at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC at (215) 665-1695 to schedule a free initial consultation. We want to know what happened to you or your loved one in a slip and fall accident, injury from a falling object, shopping cart injury or other retail store incident.
The aggressive legal team at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC has successfully represented clients in Philadelphia and the surrounding communities since the founding of our firm in 1987. Our firm advocates for clients throughout Chester, Delaware, Bucks and Montgomery Counties. We are relentless in our goal to see you made whole after a retail store accident. You should not have to pay for the negligence of another.
Information About Retail Store Accidents
- Premises Liability Requirements
- Proving Negligence of a Retail Store Owner
- Shared Fault Rules
- What Can Be Recovered in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A business owner must take care so that customers are not at risk of serious injury on his or her business premises. Legally, the invited customer of a business is called a “business visitor.” The businessperson has a duty of protection to the customer, meaning he or she must take reasonable care to limit dangers of which the business owner is aware as well as proactively protect the customer from dangers that may arise. Routine inspections must be performed in order to place signage around known hazards, rectify hazards and discover potential dangers.
If a customer incurs a serious injury, the customer may evaluate if the property owner is liable. When deciding whether to move forward with a lawsuit, we will evaluate the following questions, each of which we must prove to show the business owner was negligent.
- Was there a condition on the property that caused physical harm to an invitee?
- Did the property owner know about the condition or, by the exercise of reasonable care, should have discovered the condition?
- Did the property owner realize the condition involved an unreasonable risk of harm to his or her invitee?
- Did the property owner believe the invitee would not realize there is a danger or be able to protect themselves against the danger?
- Did the property owner fail to exercise reasonable care to protect his or her invitee against danger?
Some examples of negligence include a shelf holding heavy equipment that consistently fails, but has never been effectively repaired. Another example is a spill left unattended for an unreasonable amount of time due to the lack of care or negligence of a business owner to properly maintain their premises.
There are a number of ways a businessperson can defend himself or herself against personal injury lawsuits. As the plaintiff, we must demonstrate the owner's ineffectiveness by a preponderance of the evidence in order to prove negligence of the retail owner. In other words, our claims must be judged as more likely to be true and accurate than not true.
The major points of contention in retail accident lawsuits are typically:
- Did the owner know about the hazardous condition?
- If the owner did not know, should the owner have known about the hazardous condition
This brings up the concept of actual notice versus constructive notice. If the owner played a role in creating the hazard, the plaintiff does not need to prove whether there is actual or constructive notice.
Actual notice would be evidenced by a memo, email or some other record in which a business owner acknowledges the hazard exists. It may be hard to find a smoking gun that directly shows the owner was aware of the hazard.
In lieu of actual notice, the court will consider whether the businessperson failed to inspect their property for hazards, thus falling short of their legal requirements. This is considered constructive notice. The owner must have acted with “reasonable care” in keeping their property free of hazards. This includes visual inspections for spills or other risks and the rectification of known dangers. If such a time passed between inspections that the owner is deemed to have acted at a standard lower than reasonable care, the court will judge them as having constructive notice.
Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC will investigate all available means to determine:
- How the hazard came to be
- How long the hazard remained in place
- Who was aware of the hazard
- What inspection procedures are in place at this and other businesses
- Conditions of the premises during the accident, including spills and poor lighting
- Was maintenance adequate, such as broken railings
- Was there a routine cleaning schedule, including spills, broken glass and fallen objects
- Was the parking lot properly maintained
A personal injury attorney at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC will access various records to provide a detailed understanding of the accident, conditions that led to the accident and the business owner’s knowledge of such conditions.
The defendant in a lawsuit may counter that you, the plaintiff, also acted with negligence for your own personal safety. This is the practice of shared fault or modified comparative negligence. In determining a settlement, the court will look at the responsible parties, including the plaintiff, and assign a percentage of fault to each.
It behooves the defendant to show that you did not exercise the reasonable care of a typical individual when the accident took place. The defendant could argue you were distracted by your phone and unaware of your surroundings when the accident occurred. If the defendant can show the court that you took less care with your safety, your percentage of fault may increase from 15 percent to 40 percent, decreasing the amount of your settlement.
Similar to most other personal injury lawsuits, you may be able to recover any money spent as a direct result of the accident, including hospital bills, physical therapy bills and other medical expenses. The settlement also could pay for any lost wages due to the accident. If serious disfigurement occurred or a psychological condition has arisen, the court may reward added monetary compensation for the invaluable loss of life’s pleasures.
Finding the Best Retail Store Accident Defense Lawyer in Pennsylvania
You have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. Do not let time pass when there is important and time-sensitive evidence to be collected. If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic retail store accident that resulted in physical injury, disfigurement or death, call Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC at (215) 665-1695.
Our firm has been practicing in Philadelphia for more than 25 years, and our attorneys have a long history of success through mediation, arbitration and at trial. We want to help you win the settlement that will cover your hospital bills and help you recover your lost earning potential due to the accident.