I Tripped and Fell in a Crowded Entryway of a Store: What are My Rights?

Store owners invite members of the public into their establishments to make purchases, seek services, and otherwise generate business sales.  Customers are a critical component to any store owner’s business.  Yet, some store owners fail to properly protect members of the public who are patronizing their establishments.  What is supposed to be a quick errand at the grocery store ends up in a hospital visit, months of pain and suffering, and even surgery.  If this has happened to you or someone you know, contact our experienced slip and fall lawyers to learn your rights to compensation.

Whenever the general public is invited into premises, that owner must keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition.  Thus, every store owner has a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm from occurring to entrants onto their property.  This is a common law (judge made law) principle which hold true throughout New York State.  While historically entrants onto the land for business purposes were afforded the highest level of care, this is now just a factor to consider as to the “reasonableness” of the care exercised by the store owner.

The most important area of a store where a store owner owes this duty is at the entrances and exits.  Not only is this important because every entrant into the store will pass by this area twice, but it is particularly important in the case of an emergency to keep the means of ingress and egress free of hazards which may prohibit emergency exits or emergency responders from entering.

Thus, a store owner has a duty to keep the entrance reasonable safe and free from the risk of injury.  This includes hidden steps, short steps, or not easily seen steps.  Failing to fulfill this duty may result in negligence.  However, if the store owner marks such potentially dangerous steps with yellow tape or a warning sign, he may be absolved from liability. 

This is because what is reasonable has been determined to be what is usual, customary, and commonly used at that type of establishment.  This provides for a flexible standard which does not apply one strict rule to all establishes.  Thus, the entranceway for a grocery store has a different standard than the entranceway to a dark, haunted house amusement. 

The standard also applies to the actions of other customers, which is also the responsibility of the store owner.  For instance, where patrons leave shopping carts, bicycles, strollers, and other similar objects by the front of the store (outside or just inside), a store owner may be liable for another patron’s fall caused by these obstacles.  Therefore, the store owner must remain in control of his store and keep a safe means for ingress and egress.

The attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle slip and fall cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County.  Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents.  Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.