Delaware Slip and Fall Cases
As a Delaware personal injury lawyer, I talk with many clients who are interested in knowing whether they have a case after slipping and falling. A slip and fall injury case is not as simple as it might seem. This is the first in a series of articles explaining slip and fall cases in Delaware.
A 50-year-old woman went into a store on a rainy day. As she stepped off of a floor mat, her foot slid on the wet floor and she fell, resulting in a fractured hip. There weren’t any wet floor signs in the store. An employee had mopped the floor on the morning of the accident and, based on his inspections of the floor every half hour, he decided that the floor wasn’t wet enough to require additional mopping.
In Delaware, the law relating to these kinds of accidents is as follows:
When a business owner invites customers onto his property to conduct business, he has to exercise care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. He has to warn customers about any unreasonable risks which he knows about. Even if he doesn’t have actual knowledge of the risk, he has the same duty to warn if he should have known about it. One other requirement regarding the duty to warn - the risk has to be something that the customer would not be expected to discover for himself.
What do you think the result was? The Court agreed that the floor was damp or wet and slippery, and that this wetness caused this woman to fall. But this was not enough to show an unreasonably dangerousness condition or negligence on the part of the store owner. The Court explained that he was not required to use extraordinary care to keep the floor completely dry. Instead, his duty was to exercise reasonable care, and the Court believed that he did that by installing "walk off" mats in the entranceway to keep the floor dry by soaking up water from customers' shoes and by checking the floor every ½ hour on the day of the accident to see whether the floor was wet enough to require further mopping or the use of a sign.
The Court went on to explain that there wasn’t anything else the owner could have reasonably done to protect his customers from the tracked-in water. He couldn’t have stopped rainwater from being blown onto the floor by the wind or tracked in by other customers. The only way to have kept the floor completely dry is for him to have stationed an employee by the door all day for the sole purpose of mopping up each time a customer entered or left the store. A store owner is not required to do this.
The woman lost the case.
Slip and fall cases are not as easy as most people think. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident and have questions about your rights, call Delaware attorney Charles Snyderman for a free consultation.