A client asked us about her legal rights when she slipped on ice in front of a supermarket and sustained serious personal injury including a broken pelvis. Generally speaking supermarkets will carry insurance for these incidents but will only pay a claim if the supermarket was negligent in maintaining its premises. Simply stated negligence means that the supermarket acted unreasonably under the circumstances.
For example say there was a storm a week before the accident and the supermarket did nothing to clear away the accumulated ice and snow around the entrance to the store. On the day of the accident the customer tries to be careful entering the store and maneuvering around the icy conditions. Nevertheless she falls and sustains injury. In that case it is pretty clear that the supermarket knowing that patrons will be crossing over the icy area to gain entrance has a duty to take reasonable precautions to make the area safe. In this case since the supermarket had a week to clear the ice it is almost certainly liable for the injury and its insurance company should pay the claim.
For another example assume that the accident happened in the middle of a storm. In that case the supermarket made best efforts to keep the entrance clear but couldn’t stay ahead of the snow and ice accumulating from the storm. The patron slipped and fell on ice that accumulated as a result of the storm. In that case since the store was doing most everything it could it would be hard to find negligence and the store’s insurance company probably would not pay the claim voluntarily.
Most cases fall somewhere in between these two examples. The supermarket’s insurance company will typically try hard to avoid paying the claim blaming the weather and even the patron herself for not being careful. Our firm evaluates every claim on its own merits. If we think the claim is justified we will insist that the insurance company pay the claim and if they don’t we will bring litigation against the supermarket and the insurance company. Since we have a reputation among the insurance companies for fighting hard for our clients and litigating cases when we must they will usually settle. The amount of settlement depends on the seriousness of the injury, the amount of medical bills, lost wages and other expenses and the degree to which the store was negligent. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a slip and fall accident you should consult our firm to know your legal rights.