Each year, millions of Americans visit the emergency room due to a fall-related injury. The National Safety Council reports that falls are the top cause of preventable injuries and the second most common cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.
From broken bones or spinal damage to traumatic brain injuries, even a “simple” slip and fall at ground level may result in serious physical harm. While falls can happen anywhere, grocery stores may see a higher rate of customer injuries if owners, managers or employees fail to address common risks.
1. Food or liquid spills
Food and/or liquid spills may be especially frequent in produce sections and refrigerator/freezer aisles. In addition to fallen fruits/vegetables or excess water from misting systems, poorly maintained refrigeration equipment can lead to water pooling on floors.
2. Hazardous floors or carpets
Uneven or damaged floors or floor coverings may also present a slip or trip hazard, especially at entrances and exits where foot traffic is higher. Customers should watch out for torn, improperly laid or missing mats well as water, snow or ice that others may have tracked in.
3. Poor parking lot conditions
Potholes, damaged asphalt, broken or obstructed sidewalks and poor lighting in parking areas may also create the potential for injury. While the store owner may not be liable for parking lot safety, the owner of the commercial property may be.
As in other states, in Florida property or store owners may be responsible for customer slip-and-fall injuries if they fail to address potential hazards that they either knew about or should have known about. In addition to payment for medical bills, injured individuals may be able to receive compensation for lost income and the pain and suffering caused.