Premises Liability (Slip/Fall) Injuries
In Arizona, property owners are generally required to keep their property reasonably safe and to warn guests of unreasonably dangerous conditions. Failure to do so can expose the property owner to liability for the victim’s injuries and damages. Often times, slip and fall injuries may seem minor, at first, with more serious symptoms occurring as time goes by. For this reason, it is always important to document the condition that caused you to fall and to immediately consult with a medical professional if you believe you may have been injured in a slip and fall accident.
Duty Owed to a Customer, Invitee or Guest
Many slip and fall cases occur at a place of business, such as a grocery store. Arizona law requires business owners to exercise reasonable care. This duty of reasonable care includes an affirmative duty to discover and correct or warn of hazards that the owner should reasonably foresee might endanger one of its business invitees or customers.
Arizona law requires business owners to take reasonable steps to warn, safeguard, or correct an unreasonably dangerous condition that business owner/property owner had “notice of.” In other words, the business owner must actually have had notice of the dangerous condition or should have had notice of the dangerous condition. There are three ways to establish that the owner “had notice of” the unreasonably dangerous condition:
• The owner or one of his or her employees/agents created the dangerous condition;
• The owner or one of his or her employees/agents knew of the condition in time to fix it or warn of it; or
• The dangerous condition existed long enough to where the owner or his or her agents should have discovered it and known about it.
Consider the following example. In a common scenario, a customer at a grocery store slips and falls on a spilled liquid. The owner will have “had notice of” the liquid if his or her employees spilled the liquid; the owner or his or her employees saw someone else spill the liquid and failed to clean it up in a reasonable time, or the spilled liquid was on the ground long enough to where a reasonable owner or his employees would have seen it and cleaned it up.
In the last scenario, an owner may not escape responsibility if they turn a blind eye to safety. Almost all retail businesses have policies and procedures to perform visual inspections of the floors for slip and fall hazards. For example, in most grocery stores, employees are required to perform visual sweeps of the store, specifically looking for dangerous conditions. These visual sweeps include the entire store and are at set intervals. The store then creates a written log setting forth that the sweep was performed, the time it was performed and who performed it. If a store does not have this procedure in place, or if they fail to follow this procedure, then they can be held responsible.
If an injured customer or someone invited to a business is able to establish that the owner “had notice of” or should have “had notice of” an unreasonably dangerous condition and failed to act to correct the unreasonably dangerous condition, then the business may be liable for its guest’s personal injuries. Some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
Debris on the floor
Defective stairs or broken handrails
Holes or ditches in flooring
What should I do after being involved in a Slip/Fall Accident?
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