Stores Must be Safe

on May 13, 2014 by Gene M. Lerner

We all go into and out of stores seemingly every single day. Whether it is a grocery store, coffee shop, department store or restaurant, the business has certain legal obligations to its customers.  Perhaps the most expansive duty a store owes to its customers is a duty “to exercise prudence and care in keeping the premises under his or her control in a condition that will not expose the public unreasonably or unnecessarily to danger, and the measure of this duty is the standard of reasonable prudence and care.”  In other words, a store owner must ensure that his store is safe for its customers.

The store owner, in making sure the store is safe, must consider the likelihood of injury, the potential seriousness of an injury, and the burden of avoiding the risk of customers in the store being injured. As a practical matter, this means that the goods sold must be shelved in such a manner as to avoid injuries and the floors should be clean and free of water, oil, or other slip and fall hazards.  A storekeeper operating a retail store may be liable where a person suGene's picstains an injury as a result of the dangerous condition of an area in the store. A retail storekeeper is also required to use reasonable care to prevent objects for which he is responsible from falling and causing injury to persons lawfully in the vicinity. Particularly in self-service stores, it is reasonably foreseeable that material stored and piled on high shelves may fall, striking a customer.

The owner’s duty does not necessarily end at the front door to the store.  The duty extends to entrances, exits, and areas provided for use by the public and the grounds and areas adjacent to the establishment, which are under the proprietor’s control and which provide facilities for the use of customers.  By virtue of the store’s invitation, the store represents that the entrance, exit, and premises are reasonably safe and free from risk, and a breach of duty in keeping them so that ultimately causes an injury will render the proprietor liable for damages.

If you or a loved one has been injured by another party’s negligence, contact Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt to schedule a free initial consultation. We can help you understand your legal options and how you can recover for your medical bills and other damages suffered from the accident. If you need assistance, or are interested in learning more, please contact us by phone at (201) 820-6001 in New Jersey or (212) 692-0200 in New York. We can also be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and on the Internet. All personal injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no risk to you.