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Can I Sue a Retail Store After an Injury?

Posted May 22, 2018 | General Personal Injury

Injuries can happen anywhere, anytime and they can range in severity from bruised tailbones, to broken arms, to traumatic brain injuries. In a retail store, potential injuries can easily stem from spilled liquids on the floor; sharp edges on shelving; items falling from displays; and problems with elevators, escalators, or stairs. If you suffered an injury in a retail store, you may be able to receive compensation from the store. Whether you can file a lawsuit against a retail store depends on a variety of factors.

Proving Liability

Filing a lawsuit against a retail store is a matter of premises liability. To show the store is responsible for your injuries, you must prove the store or storeowner was negligent or reckless. Proving negligence involves showing the court the following:

  • The store owed you a duty
  • The store breached the duty
  • The breach of duty caused your injuries
  • The store can compensate you in a monetary amount

All property owners have a duty to maintain their properties so they are reasonably safe for visitors or, in the case of a retail store injury, customers. A storeowner must conduct frequent checks to make sure that there are no dangerous conditions in the store that could cause an injury. If you fall on merchandise left in the aisle, for example, the owner failed in his or her duty of keeping the store safe, and the failure caused you to suffer an injury.

Premises liability is not always clear. There are some situations in which a storeowner could not have prevented a dangerous condition. For example, if a customer spills water on the floor and does not tell anyone, a slip-and-fall incident caused by the spill may not be the owner’s fault. The injury resulting from the spill is only the owner’s fault if the spill existed for an unreasonable amount of time, because the owner has a duty to consistently check the store for potentially dangerous situations.

Potential Damages

If the court determines the store is liable for your injury, it may award you certain types of damages. The most basic things you will receive compensation for include past and future medical expenses, including hospital fees, cost of doctor visits, physical therapy, and any other medical services you needed or will need because of the accident.

The court could also award you damages for lost wages if you need to take days off of work to recover from the injury. Lost wages also include a loss of earning capacity if you are no longer able to earn a salary as high as you could before you suffered the injury.

The store may also need to compensate you for pain and suffering, which covers a change in overall quality of life. Your attorney may collect statements from people who can testify about your life before and after the injury.

In extreme cases, the court may also award you punitive damages. The other types of compensation are meant to help you recover, but the court awards punitive damages with the intent of further punishing the store if it believes the financial burden of the other damages is not enough. The court may award these types of damages if it determines the store was aware of the dangerous condition and did nothing to prevent the injury.

Contributory Negligence

Texas courts follow the contributory negligence rule, which allows courts to reduce your compensation depending on how responsible you were for the incident. For example, if the court determines that you were 15% at fault for your injury, it will reduce your total compensation by 15%. You can still be awarded some amount of compensation if you were less responsible than the store for the accident. Speak to a Dallas premises liability attorney if you have any doubts regarding your injury.