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Preparing for retailers’ slip-and-fall defenses in California

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2022 | Firm News |

If you have been seriously injured in a slip-and-fall accident at a retail store, you and your attorney may decide that filing a premises liability lawsuit against the retailer responsible for your accident is the best way for you to recover damages. However, it is highly unlikely that a retailer will immediately admit liability for your accident and agree to pay you the amount you deserve. In most cases, the retailer will contact its own attorney to defend against your allegations. As you build your cases, it may be beneficial for you to be prepare to address the following defenses commonly used by retailers in slip-and-fall cases.

Comparative negligence

Many retailers’ first argument will be that the slip-and-fall accident was caused by the injured shopper’s own negligence. Some examples of this negligence include:

  • Failing to wear non-slip or slip-resistant shoes
  • Running instead of walking, particularly in areas with slippery floors
  • Ignoring signs warning of a store hazard
  • Failing to pay attention or looking down at a cell phone while walking through the store

Under California’s pure comparative negligence laws, shoppers who are found to be partially liable for their own accidents can still recover damages. However, the damages will be reduced based on the percentage of fault apportioned to them.

Lack of notice

A retailer may argue that the dangerous condition or hazard that caused the accident was not present for enough time for the retailer to be aware of it. It will be your job to provide photographs, witness testimony, and other evidence to establish that the hazard existed for enough time and that the retailer knew of it or should have known of it.

Open and obvious hazard

The retailer may argue that the hazard would have been open and obvious to a reasonable person, and therefore, the shopper should have seen it and taken steps to avoid it. You will need to show that a reasonable person would not have seen the hazard or would not have been aware of the dangers of the hazard.