Although Black Friday has come and gone, brick and mortar retail has a surprisingly strong outlook heading into this year’s winter shopping season. That means that as winter holidays approach, we can expect packed stores and increasingly chaotic shopping outings. When we include icy parking lots and other common winter weather hazards in this equation, we unfortunately have a perfect recipe for holiday shopping accidents. Legally, retailers are required to maintain a safe environment for their customers, but our seasoned team of Northern New Jersey slip and fall lawyers at Buttafuoco & Associates is all-too-familiar with icy conditions and other scenarios that often lead to personal injury.
Negligence in Slip and Fall Accidents
Whether you slip on debris in a store aisle or an icy patch outside a retail property, a slip and fall incident can lead to serious injury. Unfortunately, however, just because you are injured on a store owner’s property, it doesn’t necessarily mean the business is responsible for your medical bills. You must first prove that the owner or an employee either caused or knew about the hazardous condition that resulted in your fall.
If, for example, a large puddle of slush accumulated inside the front doors of a retailer and you slipped because it was not mopped up in a timely manner, the owner could potentially be considered negligent. Likewise, if you tripped on a broken tile or other hazard and no warning sign was posted, the business owner could be held liable. However, if you slipped during an ice storm and there was not time for the owner to respond, or a warning sign was posted notifying you of a wet floor, you may not have a case.
If you do experience a slip or fall during a shopping outing, the most important step you can take is to document the details: take photos of the location of the fall as well as your injuries. Request contact information from witnesses and employees. Then head directly to the emergency room. Even small injuries can get worse over time, and the best evidence for a slip and fall case is the most timely. All of this evidence will help your attorney understand whether or not you have a basis for negligence.
Keep in mind that even if you are partially at fault for your injuries, you may be able to claim “comparative negligence” or “contributory negligence.” The good news is that under contributory negligence, even if the plaintiff is partly at fault, they can still recover damages from the defendant. The bad news for the plaintiff, however, is that if the court decides that the plaintiff partly contributed to the accident, they will deduct a percentage of the compensation. (The amount will be reflective of the degree to which the plaintiff is considered responsible.) Even if a defendant clearly demonstrates negligence, they will often attempt to show the plaintiff’s comparative negligence to minimize the amount they have to pay.
Understanding Spoliation of Evidence
Many of the types of evidence that are essential in slip and fall cases won’t be around forever, and will often be in the possession of the defendant. For example, if your evidence of the defendant’s negligence is security footage kept by the store itself, it’s likely that it will be deleted or taped over in a short period of time. When pertinent evidence to a court case is destroyed, that is referred to as spoliation. For something to be considered spoliation, the party who destroyed the evidence must be aware that there is pending, ongoing, or probable litigation related to that evidence. The best way to prevent the discarding of evidence is to work with a slip and fall attorney in Northern New Jersey to send a “Letter of Spoliation.” This kind of notice from a Buttafuoco & Associates attorney will inform the defendant there is pending litigation and potential evidence should not be discarded.
Get in Touch with a Lawyer Today
No one wants their holidays to be disrupted by a serious injury, but in the unfortunate case you are harmed by another’s negligence during holiday shopping, our team can help. Slip and fall cases can be complicated, but the team at Buttafuoco & Associates knows how to build your case to recover what you may be owed for medical bills and other injury-related expenses. Don’t hesitate to contact our slip and fall attorneys in Northern New Jersey right away.
Call today at 1-800-NOW-HURT.