Liability for accident caused by walking with wet umbrella in yoga studio?

by Millicent
(Atlanta, GA)

I paid in full for yoga classes. My third class, I could not enter the studio because the owner locked the door (because there was another class in session). Therefore another student and I stood outside in the rain for approx 5 minutes.

When she unlocked the door, we entered the studio and I placed my closed umbrella on the inside wall, on a fabric towel on the floor. The owner of the yoga studio told me to remove my wet umbrella and carry the umbrella to the bathroom and place it in the bathtub.

Getting to the bathroom required me to walk 20 feet through a narrow hallway and past the equipment and changing room. I carried the wet umbrella and while walking to the bathroom slipped and fell to my knees on the tile floor. I did see drips of liquid on the floor after I fell.

I called the EMT ambulance because I could not remove myself from the floor, and went to the nearest ER shortly after the accident. I suffered a patella dislocation of both knees, nerve damage, and pulled muscles in my shoulder, neck and arm.

The Yoga instructor did not complete any injury report paperwork and I did not sign any injury incident reports after the accident. The studio interior did not have any commercial rain absorbent rugs or runners on the floors or at the entrance. The studio floors are wood and hallway floors are tile.

There were no signs stating "Slippery When Wet" or "Do Not Carry Wet Shoes or Umbrellas in Building." The yoga instructor states she is not responsible for the accident because I should have known the floor would be dangerous and slippery to walk on.

She also said she had suitable rugs on the interior floors. These rugs were not present the day of the accident, they were purchased after the slip and fall as can be shown by their Facebook photos, which show only a small towel at the entrance.

Is the business owner (yoga instructor) responsible for the accident, medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses because she requested that I carry a dripping wet umbrella while walking on non-slip resistant flooring? What can I do to get reimbursed for my medical bills? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Liability for accident caused by walking with wet umbrella in yoga studio?":

Millicent (Atlanta, GA):

Whether or not the business owner is liable for your injures and resulting costs will depend upon whether or not the owner knew, or should have known the bathroom‘s floors were slippery; and with that knowledge failed to dry the floor, or at a minimum, place cautionary signs around the wet area.

At first glance it would appear the business owner failed to take precautionary action. However, you mentioned it was raining. If so, and there were other people who were tracking water into the bathroom, and the owner didn’t have sufficient time to dry the water or place cautionary signs, then the owner may not be liable.

You are talking about the legal doctrine of premises liability. Under premises liability, a business owner is under a legal "duty of care" to do everything reasonably possible to assure third parties are safe from undue harm or injury. When a business owner fails to do so he or she has "breached" that legal duty of care.

That breach translates to the business owner’s negligence. When the business owner’s negligence results in injuries to third parties, like yourself, the owner may become responsible for the injured party’s damages. Damages can include medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

From the facts you present, the owner should have known the bathroom floor would be wet, especially as the teacher directed you, and possibly others with umbrellas to take the umbrellas to the bathroom. The teacher, as an agent of the owner, should have known the bathroom floor would be wet. Knowing that, she failed to take appropriate action. That breach of duty likely constitutes negligence.

You would be ill-served attempting to resolve this case on your own. It's likely the owner will deny liability. Because of the seriousness of your injuries, you will need the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. To help you decide whether or not you need an attorney, read this article and this one.

Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys will not charge for an initial office consultation. Gather your medical bills and records, and seek out several personal injury attorneys in your area. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with. The attorney will not charge you any fee until, and unless he or she settles your claim or wins it in court.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
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