The moment you enter a place of business, that business's owner/manager, or whomever controls that facility, has a responsibility to you. That responsibility involves ensuring that everyplace in that store where you might go is safe and free from potential harm to you and all other patrons. If you are injured at that store, you have certain rights and avenues for recovery on your injuries, so long as you can prove that the owner is liable.
In many cases, shoppers' injuries involve slip-and-fall accidents. Slip-and-fall accidents can involve a variety of hazards. These might include a loose floor board, a rough, uneven patch of carpet, or a puddle of liquid on a store's hard floor. In these types of "premises liability" cases, you, as the injured person, generally have to show three things: that you suffered an injury, that the injury you suffered took place because a hazardous condition existed on the business's property, and that the hazardous condition that injured you existed because the business owner was negligent in ensuring the safety of the property. When there is a substance or thing on the floor which has caused the fall, the analysis will turn to how long it has been there, and how vigilant the store is in sweeping and inspecting. An exception to this exists when there is evidence that the substance or item was on the floor due to an employee of the store. In that case, the injured person is relieved of the duty to show that the store owner was on notice of the hazard. Typically, evidence that a substance or thing has been on the floor for over 30 minutes or so will be adequate proof of notice.
In other cases, the harm is caused by falling objects. As an example, say a shopper stops to inspect a display model of a product. As the shopper inspects the product, the display collapses and significantly injures the shopper's foot. This situation involves a different set of considerations, and perhaps, a different path toward recovery. While the injured shopper may have a case against the store owner manner for failing to construct and maintain the display in a safe manner, he/she may also have a claim against the display product's manufacturer based upon a product liability claim. In these cases, the injured person must show that the product did not satisfy the ordinary expectations of a reasonable consumer. When a product poses an unexpected defect or risk of harm, then it necessarily fails to meet these expectations.
In either of these cases, the risk of injury must be reasonably foreseeable. So, if a shopper is injured while simply walking down a store aisle, or simply picking up a display product, those qualify, as it is foreseeable that a shopper will walk down a store aisle or pick up a display product. If, however, the shopper slipped and fell while performing cartwheels in the store aisle, the degree of foreseeability become remote. Insurance carriers often assert that a given hazard was "open and obvious," and that the injured person failed to watch where they were going. California law, though, recognizes that shoppers are inherently distracted in stores, and they are not required to look down at every step they take.
Injuries in stores are as diverse and numerous as there are types of stores. If you or a loved one has suffered injury while at a business's property, contact our experienced San Francisco injury attorneys. The hardworking San Francisco injury attorneys at Callaway & Wolf are here to help advise you on the best path for your case, to ensure you get the justice you deserve.