If you suffered an injury in a slip and fall on a wet floor when a warning sign was posted, it could be more difficult– though not impossible– to sue for compensation. The property owner or manager has specific responsibilities, and a wet floor sign may fulfill them, providing a defense to your claim. However, every situation is unique, so discuss your case with a personal injury attorney to determine whether you have grounds to file a lawsuit.
Elements to prove in a slip and fall lawsuit
A slip and fall lawsuit, like many personal injury cases, is based on negligence. To prevail as an injured plaintiff, you must be able to show that the defendant was negligent. To do so, you must be able to prove:
- The defendant owed a duty of care. If a property is open to the public, a grocery store, for example, the owner or manager, owes them a duty to keep the property in a safe condition and to warn of inherent dangers.
- The defendant breached the duty. When they do not inspect the premises for dangers, ignore hazards, or fail to post warnings, this may be a breach of duty.
- The breach caused your fall. The defendant’s negligence must have caused the fall and resulting injury.
- The breach caused damages. The slip and fall must have caused some loss. Usually, this is an injury, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and the expense of medical treatment.
Each of the above is mandatory. If you file a lawsuit but cannot offer evidence on all of them, your case will be dismissed. Speak with a slip and fall lawyer from Salamati Law about whether they are present in your case.
Defenses to a slip and fall lawsuit
If you prove each necessary element, the defendant may have arguments to avoid liability. Some of the more commonly used are:
- Open and obvious – The defendant did not have a duty to warn because the dangerous condition was easy to see.
- No notice – A business cannot be expected to fix or warn about a problem that it did not know about. However, if the defendant reasonably should have known it, the lack of notice is not a defense.
- Plaintiff’s fault – If your carelessness contributed to the injury, it might reduce or eliminate the defendant’s liability. People have a general duty to watch where they are going. If you did not pay attention to your surroundings and it led to a fall, this will hurt your case.
- Pre-existing conditions – The defendant’s financial responsibility may be lessened if the fall did not entirely cause your physical injuries. For example, if you suffered a back injury but have had back problems since an earlier event, the defendant will argue that it is only liable for the amount that your pain was worsened.
Your personal injury lawyer will review your case for potential defenses. Based on experience, they will advise you about an anticipated defense and how to address it.
How a wet floor sign affects negligence
The purpose of the wet floor sign is to warn the public about the potential danger of a slick surface. When a property manager places the sign, it arguably fulfills the duty to notify. It also indicates that the property owner or manager was aware of the wet floor, eliminating the potential defense that the defendant had no reason to know of the danger.
However, if the sign did not serve its purpose, then the defendant may still be liable. For example, if the sign was not legible, was placed after the fall, is in the wrong location, or easy to overlook– then it did not adequately provide notice.