Visitor Question

Slipped and fell in water and employee ignored it?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Vancouver, Washington)

I fell at the grocery store in a water puddle. Embarrassed, I turned to look behind me and saw an employee of all people. Said employee turned his head like he was pretending not to notice what just happened and didn’t even go get a wet floor sign. Or clean it up.

I told customer service so nobody else would get hurt. She then asked me if I wanted to fill out an incident report. I said yes. I was disappointed the employee didn’t put a sign out when there should have been one in the first place. The managers told me some company will be calling me in a few days to check on me and see if I am ok.

I guess I’m writing this inquiry because I’m curious as to what’s going to happen next? This is an odd situation to me. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

The legal issue involved is known as Premises Liability. Under this doctrine, store owners are required to do everything within reason to make sure their stores are safe for those who are legally upon the premises.

You obviously fit into the category of a person legally upon the premises. In fact, the law refers to you and other shoppers as “Invitees.” As an invitee, you have a right to shop without having to worry about whether the store is safe and free of danger.

However, for the owner of a store to be negligent, s/he must have known, or should have known about a spill or other danger and failed to act in a prompt manner to clean it up. For example, it is obvious the employee knew, or should have known the floor was wet and therefore dangerous to shoppers. Under these circumstances, if you had been injured, the store owner would likely be liable.

However, let’s say immediately before you fell, one of the misters over the vegetable aisle broke and the mist fell to the floor, causing a wet area. Seconds later you slipped and fell. Let’s also presume an employee was not in the area. Under those circumstances it is arguable the store owner did not have enough time to find out about the spill and remove it. Under those circumstances the store owner would likely not be liable for your injuries (if you had been injured).

While you raise interesting legal issues you cannot expect to be compensated. You do not appear to have been injured. There is no law in the State of Washington which requires store owners to compensate shoppers who were embarrassed.

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

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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