Dining out is a common activity of day-to-day life for many people. Whether we are grabbing a quick bite with a friend or enjoying a special occasion with a loved one, we expect to be safe while doing so. Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents can happen at restaurants, leaving diners with serious injuries. In this post, we will discuss premises liability in slip-and-fall injury cases, and what you need to know if you have been injured.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept that holds property owners responsible for injuries that occur on their property due to their negligence. This means that if a property owner fails to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition, and someone is injured as a result, the property owner may be liable for the injury. Premises liability applies to all types of properties, including restaurants.
What is a slip and fall accident?
A slip-and-fall accident is a type of personal injury that occurs when someone slips, trips, or falls on someone else's property. Slip and fall accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, including wet or slippery floors, uneven surfaces, poorly maintained walkways, or inadequate lighting in parking lots.
In slip and fall accident cases at restaurants, some common causes of the incident include spills, debris on the floor, and poorly maintained flooring.
Proving premises liability in a slip and fall restaurant case
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident at a restaurant, you may be able to file a premises liability claim against the restaurant owner.
To prove premises liability in a slip and fall case, you must show that:
- The restaurant owner had a duty to keep the premises safe for customers.
- The restaurant owner breached that duty by failing to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
- The breach of duty caused your injuries.
- You suffered damages as a result of your injuries.
Duty of care
Restaurant owners have a duty to keep their premises safe for customers. This means that they must take reasonable steps to prevent slip and fall accidents from happening. Reasonable steps may include:
- Regularly inspecting the restaurant for hazards.
- Cleaning up spills and debris promptly.
- Posting warning signs in areas where hazards may exist.
- Maintaining the flooring in a safe condition.
Breach of duty
If the restaurant owner fails to take reasonable steps to prevent slip and fall accidents, they may be considered to have breached their duty of care. For example, if a restaurant employee fails to clean up a spill promptly, and a customer slips and falls on the wet floor, the business owner may be considered to have breached their duty of care.
An important factor to consider is whether the restaurant owner had actual or "constructive" notice. Actual notice means what it says. The restaurant owner knew of the dangerous condition. Perhaps an employee observed the spill or a customer complained about it. Constructive notice means that the spill or dangerous condition was present for a long enough period of time that the restaurant owner should have known about it.
If a customer spills a drink on the floor, and another customer slips on it seconds later, it is unreasonable to expect the property owner to address the hazard in time to prevent injury. On the other hand, if the spill is present for hours, then the property owner should be held responsible for failing to address the hazard.
Another consideration is whether the hazard was caused by the restaurant owner or staff. If a waiter spills a drink and fails to clean it up, the restaurant will be deemed to have actual notice. In light of the above, it is important to obtain evidence regarding how long the hazard or defect was present before the fall. Videos are a great source of information to prove notice and evidence from employees or witnesses can be helpful as well. Photographs depicting the hazard soon after the fall can be essential in proving liability.
To prove causation in a slip-and-fall claim, you must show that the restaurant owner's breach of duty caused your injuries. This means that if you slipped and fell on a wet floor, you must show that the wet floor was the cause of your injuries. Speculating about the cause of a fall or stating "it happened so fast, I do not know what happened", can be fatal to your case under Illinois law.
Circumstantial evidence is often necessary. The best way of describing circumstantial evidence is with an example. Say you go to sleep and the sidewalks outside are dry. Then when you wake up, there is a foot of snow on the ground. From the circumstances, you can surmise that it snowed overnight. Circumstantial evidence is helpful for showing how long a spill or hazard was on the ground and whether the restaurant owner had "constructive" notice of the hazard. Does the spill look tracked over or faded? This is why obtaining pictures of the spill soon after the fall can be vital.
If you have suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident at a restaurant, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Damages may include:
- Medical expenses, including hospital bills, doctor's fees, and rehabilitation costs.
- Lost wages, if you are unable to work due to your injuries.
- Pain and suffering, including physical and emotional pain.
- Disability, if you lose strength or range of motion as a result of your injuries.
- Loss of normal life, if your injuries prevent you from being able to perform activities of daily living or hobbies.
In Illinois, slip and fall accidents are a leading cause of personal injury, and restaurants are a common location for these accidents. Restaurant owners have a legal obligation to ensure that their premises are safe for customers and employees alike. Failure to do so can result in a premises liability lawsuit.
For example, if a customer slips and falls on a wet floor in a restaurant and the owner failed to clean up the spill promptly or provides adequate warning signs, the owner may be held liable for the customer's injuries. The plaintiff would need to show that the owner knew or should have known about the hazard and failed to take reasonable steps to address it.
In Illinois, contributory negligence is also a factor in premises liability cases. Contributory negligence occurs when the plaintiff's actions or inactions played a role in causing the accident. If the plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for their injuries, their damages may be reduced or eliminated altogether.
For example, if a customer is texting on their phone and fails to notice a wet floor sign, then slips and falls, the restaurant owner may argue that the customer's actions contributed to the accident and that the customer should be held partially responsible for their injuries.
To avoid premises liability lawsuits, restaurant owners in Illinois should take reasonable steps to maintain safe conditions on their premises. This includes regular inspections of the premises to identify potential hazards, prompt cleanup of spills and other hazards, and providing adequate warning signs to customers.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident at a restaurant, you may be able to file a premises liability claim against the restaurant owner. To prove premises liability, you must show that the restaurant owner had a duty to keep the premises safe for customers, breached that duty, and that the breach caused your injuries. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Why you need a personal injury lawyer
A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights. Here are some reasons why you need a personal injury lawyer:
- Knowledge and experience: Personal injury lawyers have extensive knowledge and experience in handling slip and fall cases. They understand the laws and regulations related to premises liability and can help you build a strong case.
- Investigation: A personal injury lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident to determine who was at fault and gather evidence to support your case.
- Negotiation: A personal injury lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
- Litigation: If necessary, a personal injury lawyer can take your case to court to fight for your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
By hiring a personal injury lawyer, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and medical bills. Personal injury cases are common, and they can result in severe physical, emotional, and financial damages. In such situations, hiring a personal injury lawyer is crucial to protect your rights and interests. However, some people may choose not to hire a personal injury lawyer, which can be a terrible mistake.
Neglecting to hire a personal injury lawyer after being injured due to someone else's negligence can be detrimental to your case. Without representation, you may not receive the full compensation you are entitled to, and you may have to deal with the legal system alone, which can be overwhelming.
The legal system can be complex and confusing, especially for someone who has no experience. A lawyer can navigate the legal system efficiently and effectively. For instance, a personal injury lawyer can help you understand the legal process, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation possible.
Personal injury lawyers have access to resources that can help strengthen your case. They can hire investigators to gather evidence, medical experts to testify in court, and other professionals to provide support. Without a lawyer, you may not have access to these resources, making it difficult to build a strong case.
Insurance companies are typically focused on their bottom line and may try to settle your case for less than what you deserve. A personal injury lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, ensuring that you get fair compensation. Without representation, you may not be able to negotiate effectively, leaving you with a settlement that does not cover all of your damages.
Find a lawyer today
If you have been injured in a restaurant slip-and-fall accident, it is important to understand your legal rights and to seek legal advice from an experienced slip-and-fall attorney. A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights and can work to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries. By taking preventative measures and working together, we can all help make restaurants safer places for everyone to enjoy.
Contact the law firm of Palermo Law Group today to schedule a free consultation with our team of experts.