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Sugar Land Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Personal Injury > What Happens If I Fall At a Grocery Store?

What Happens If I Fall At a Grocery Store?


Among both customers and workers, slip-and-fall incidents are the leading cause of serious injuries at grocery stores. These serious injuries include broken bones and head injuries. Broken bones usually never entirely heal, especially if the victim is an older adult with a pre-existing condition. Instead, the injury permanently limits mobility. Head injuries are not just permanent, since dead brain cells don’t regenerate. These injuries are also degenerative. Advanced head injuries kill more than 50,000 Americans every year.

Injured grocery store employees are usually eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Everyone else, including customers and vendors, may partner with a Sugar Land personal injury attorney and file civil actions. The compensation available includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.

Duty of Care

The duty of care, which is the foundation of a negligence case, is loosely based on the story of the Good Samaritan. This man went out of his way to help an injured traveler. Likewise, Texas property owners must go out of their way to protect:

  • Invitees: The aforementioned vendors and customers are invitees under South Carolina law. They have permission to be at the store and they benefit the owner financially, even if they don’t buy anything (window-shoppers create foot traffic). Since the relationship is so close, owners must practically bend over backwards to ensure their safety.
  • Licensees: These victims are entitled to less protection. A “Caution Wet Floor” or other warning sign usually suffices. Licensees have permission to be at the store but they don’t benefit the owner.
  • Trespassers: Usually, a trespasser is a person who goes into a prohibited area, like a restroom under construction or an “employees only” area. Shoplifters are trespassers as well, even if they were invitees when they walked through the door. The law protects some child trespassers, but in most cases, the owner has no safety responsibility in this area.

Usually, a judge assigns a legal duty following a pretrial hearing. The higher the level of legal responsibility, the easier it is for a Missouri City personal injury lawyer to prove negligence, or a lack of care. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Knowledge of Hazard

Theoretical responsibility lays the foundation for a successful case. Practical responsibility is the house built on that solid foundation.

Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) is admissible in these cases. Assume Bill slipped and fell on a piece of lettuce. If the lettuce was wet and crisp, it probably fell on the floor recently. So, the owner probably didn’t know about it. However if the piece of lettuce was dry or wilted, as if it had been on the floor for some time, a grocery store employee should have spotted it and should have picked it up.

This example also illustrates the duty of care. Usually, grocery store owners should use slip-proof mats and take other precautions in produce areas.

Grocery store owners often conceal direct evidence of actual knowledge, like prior complaints and earlier falls, until the discovery process. Such smoking guns are usually the strongest evidence of negligence in these cases. So, if a matter settles too quickly, the best evidence, and maximum compensation, might be unavailable.

Work With a Savvy Fort Bend County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Missouri City, contact the Henrietta Ezeoke Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

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