With the associated high-profile publicity, premises liability lawsuits filed against major retailers and supermarkets generally attract widespread attention. Technology and automation have improved customer safety and security, but when a serious injury occurs, legal action may provide relief.

Store owners, managers and employees owe a duty of care to ensure that patrons have a safe shopping experience. That means employees must continuously keep the premises clear of debris, falling objects and liquid spills. If a risk of harm presents itself, employees have a duty of care to warn anyone on the premises of the danger.

Management and employees must provide warnings

Clear and noticeable warning signs such as yellow tape and orange cones could help prevent a slip-and-fall injury. Floor mats made from materials that absorb liquids and provide traction could also reduce the likelihood of a customer slipping.

Premises liability may extend to the consumable products that an establishment sells. For example, grocers and restaurant managers must warn customers of any food-borne illnesses, such as salmonella. A business may find itself liable if a customer contracts an illness caused by a negligent employee who served a contaminated food product.

A successful premises liability claim may require proof that the establishment knew of a hazard

Under The Empire State’s premises liability laws, an owner of an establishment faces strict liability for injuries caused by an employee’s negligence. When evidence of an unsafe condition exists, an owner owes a duty to fix it before allowing customers and invited visitors to enter the premises.

If an owner cannot accomplish an immediate repair, signs must provide a reasonable degree of warning to alert patrons to avoid the danger of a slip-and-fall. When a business neglects to take the necessary steps to protect customers from harm, an injured patron may file a claim for recovery.

A business owner may attempt to defend against a slip-and-fall claim by arguing that the customer caused his or her own injuries. An assertive presentation by the injured party’s legal team may counter an argument that the customer failed to pay attention to the warning signs.