Should I Call a Lawyer If I’ve Been Injured at a Store?
Yes, if you have been seriously hurt and require follow up medical care. This would certainly include a broken bone or injury that requires surgery. If you have a minor injury that is not going to need follow up medical attention, there may not be much a lawyer can do.
Store owners and property managers have a responsibility to take sensible measures to keep their stores reasonably safe. The law does not require an owner of a store to ensure a customer’s safety while shopping. Meeting the legal burden of proof that a store owner/manager is negligent (i.e., failed to take reasonable measures to keep a store safe) can take considerable time and effort to prove.
If the injury is fairly minor, it may cost more in time and expenses to prove liability on behalf of the store than the lawyer may be able to recover for your injury. However, if the injury is more severe, and especially if it causes you substantial hardship in the way you live your life, you should definitely consult with a lawyer immediately. Time is truly of the essence.
Video evidence, not just of the incident causing your injury but also of the area an hour or two before your injury, is often necessary to prove the store’s negligence. For instance, if you are hurt because you slipped and fell on some water in the store, you want to know how the water got there and how long it was on the floor before your fall. The store will certainly argue that they cannot be responsible for another customer’s spill if the store was not aware of the spill. If another customer spilled the liquid seconds or minutes before you fell, the store may be right. However, if the spill had been sitting on the floor for longer than a few minutes, if the store had opportunity to detect it failed to do so, or if the store had procedures in place (such as regular sweeps) that they failed to comply with, then you may be able to prove that the store was legally responsible. The best way to prove this is with surveillance video from the store.
To ensure that the video and other evidence is preserved, a letter needs to be written within a day or two (at most) after your injury. Stores do not keep video in perpetuity. It is typically overwritten unless someone at the store captures and preserves a segment of time. A lawyer can alert the store of a potential claim and provide proper notice to the store that they need to preserve video evidence of not only the incident but of specific timeframes before and after the incident as well. Otherwise, evidence necessary to prove your case may be lost.
For example, I am currently pursuing a case on behalf of a woman who needed knee surgery after she slipped and fell on some water that was spilled on the floor by another customer. The store is saying that they are not responsible because a customer spilled the water just minutes before my client fell and they were not aware of the spill until my client fell.
We immediately requested that the video of the actual fall, as well as before and after the fall, be preserved. The video shows several key things: that the spill was on the floor for ten minutes, that there were multiple store employees in the area that could have easily detected the spill, and a large broom/mop leaning against a supporting beam in the store. This broom was leaning up against the beam for a good hour prior to my client’s fall. The store manager testified that someone is supposed to be sweeping this section of the store at least on an hourly basis. Accordingly, with the help of video evidence, we will demonstrate that the store was not following its own policies. Had someone been using the broom and sweeping like they were supposed to, our argument is that they would have cleaned up the liquid before my client slipped and fell, preventing the incident. Without the video (and a lot of effort talking to employees), we would not be able to make a good case for our client.
Common Causes of Store Injuries
The above example of a slip and fall from spilled liquids is just one of many ways a guest or customer of a store can suffer an injury. Other common accidents that occur in stores include: Debris left in store aisles, Falling merchandise, Sharp or broken shelving, Loose carpeting or rugs, Broken tiles or flooring, Broken or missing handrails, Malfunctioning escalators or elevators, Poor lighting in parking lots or in store, Poorly maintained parking lots and Inadequate security.
Consequently, evidence that may potentially need to be preserved is not limited to video. You may need the store to preserve evidence of a mat, ramp, display, box, merchandise, parking lot configuration, photographs etc. A lawyer may also need to engage an expert engineer pronto to go out and inspect the store before the hazard that caused your injury is fixed. Likely, you are not going to know what you need to prove your case until you speak with a lawyer experienced in winning cases against large store retailers.
Injured accident victims should absolutely call a lawyer if they have been seriously injured in a store. A premises liability or slip and fall accident liability lawyer can help you review your legal options and guide you through the process.
Why You Need an Atlanta Premises Liability Lawyer
As illustrated above, determining who is at fault in a slip and fall or premises liability accident is difficult. After all, property owners will want to avoid financial liability. As such, store managers and property owners may claim that you are responsible. They may say that you were acting recklessly or that you were not paying attention.
A lawyer can investigate the incident and get the proof you need to establish liability. Your lawyer will: Review evidence that you have such as photographs, Talk to other guests, staff and others who may have witnessed your injury, Make sure relevant evidence is preserved, Hire experts that can help prove your case, Investigate past incidents, Speak with medical experts and Interview the store manager and owner.
A premises’ liability lawyer is experienced and skilled in the methods that insurance companies and property owners use to minimize their liability. They know the best strategies for fighting against these tactics, and they can use them to help you get the compensation you need to recover following a serious injury.
Contact Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney Bryan Baer
If you have been injured at a store, it is important to understand all your legal options. Stores and their management companies may have large legal teams on their side fighting to reduce their own liabilities. As such, you deserve to have someone in your corner who is fighting for you.
At The Baer Law Firm, Atlanta slip & fall lawyer Bryan Baer is here to help you after a serious injury at a store. We know Atlanta area stores and the ways to hold stores responsible when they fail to take proper measures for your safety. We use this knowledge to help our clients obtain the money they need to move forward. Call us at 404.THE.BAER (404.843.2237) or fill out our confidential contact form. We are here to discuss your legal matter and offer honest advice.
Attorney Bryan Baer has twenty (20) years of legal experience representing clients in serious and catastrophic personal injury and medical malpractice cases. He has been first chair in more than a dozen twelve-person jury trials on both the plaintiff and defense sides. Recognized as a leader in his legal community, he is frequently asked to speak at legal seminars on trial topics ranging from “Best Practices in Voire Dire” to “Maximizing Damages at Trial” as well as insurance issues such as “Navigating the Insurance Landscape” and “Injury Demands & Negotiations.” Learn more here.