Establishing liability following a New Jersey shopping accident
It is probably safe to assume that if asked, many people in New Jersey would list shopping as one of their favorite past times. Indeed, various studies have shown that shopping can actually make some people feel happier. Unfortunately, many of these same people may be surprised to discover that shopping can also lead to severe injuries if stores are poorly maintained.
For instance, slip-and-fall accidents due to inadequate clean-up are more common than most New Jersey shoppers would like to believe. In addition, merchandise stacked dangerously high in big-box stores have been known to fall onto people causing brutal head injuries. Sadly, one of most tragic aspects of shopping injuries is that most accidents can be easily prevented if storeowners simply maintain their stores in a safe condition.
Fortunately for New Jersey shoppers, storeowners actually owe a duty to use ordinary care to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for customers. If they fail in this duty, they can be held liable under the law for any resulting injuries – which is commonly referred to as premises liability.
Specifically, the duty imposed upon storeowners to maintain their stores in reasonably safe conditions stems from the fact that customers are considered business “invitees” and because owners are generally in the best position to prevent harm to these customers.
Consequently, a storeowner must also warn customers of dangerous conditions within his or her store – which is why it is common to find “wet floor” signs littered throughout stores. However, this duty to warn not only includes known dangers, but also dangers the storeowner should have been aware of had he or she exercised reasonable care.
For example, if a product spills in a store’s main thoroughfare – thus creating slippery conditions – and the owner fails to clean up the spill for several business hours, it is possible that a jury could hold the owner liable for any resulting slip-and-fall injuries. This finding would likely be based on the fact that if the storeowner had exercised reasonable care, the spill would have been discovered sooner and rectified.
It is important for those injured in shopping accidents due to poorly maintained store premises to know that damages may be available to compensate them for medical bills and lost wages. Accordingly, if you or a loved one has suffered an injury while shopping it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney in order to discover what your rights and options may be given your circumstances.