Businesses in Indiana have an obligation to their customers to ensure that the area accessible to customers is kept in a reasonably safe condition. Indiana grocery stores are no exception, and a large number of Indiana slip-and-fall accidents are the result of grocery store management failing to keep the store’s aisles safe for customers.
Of course, a grocery store will not be held responsible for every slip-and-fall accident that occurs in the store. Under Indiana law, a plaintiff must be able to show that the grocery store was negligent before they will be able to recover for their injuries. This includes showing that the store employees knew or should have known about the hazard. A few common types of negligence that may occur in a grocery store are:
- the improper stacking of goods;
- the failure to clean up the mess caused by a product that either fell off the shelf or was dropped by another customer; and
- the failure to ensure areas of high pedestrian traffic are kept dry during wet weather.
A recent state appellate decision discussed whether a plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to find that the defendant grocery store knew or should have known about the hazard that caused her fall.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was shopping at the defendant grocery store when he slipped and fell in what he later found out was a puddle of water. The plaintiff did not see the puddle before stepping in it, but realized afterward when his pants were “soaking wet.”
Evidently, the store had an inspection procedure in place to ensure the store was kept clean. Store employees were required to sweep the store six times a day, and were supposed to log into the store’s computer before they began the sweep to make a record. However, while the electronic log indicates that an employee conducted the sweep, surveillance video from inside the store does not show an employee sweeping the store. In fact, the employee who logged in to complete the sweep was seen helping customers at the cash register while she was supposedly sweeping the store. The video did show a different employee walk by the spill and fail to notice or clean it up. After hearing the evidence, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The trial court reversed the jury’s decision, and the plaintiff appealed.
The Court’s Decision
The court began by noting that a grocery store can rely on a properly carried out inspection procedure to negate a plaintiff’s claim of negligence. On appeal, the grocery store argued that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence suggesting that the store knew or should have known of the puddle. Specifically, the store claimed that no store employee had actual knowledge of the spill and that the store carried out its routine inspection procedures.
The court, however, disagreed, finding that the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict. The court noted that the store could not rely on its inspection procedure because there was conflicting evidence that it was properly carried out. Because the evidence suggested the store did not follow its own procedures, the court determined that the jury was free to find in the plaintiff’s favor and affirmed the jury’s verdict.
Have You Been injured in a Grocery Store Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Indiana slip-and-fall accident that occurred at a grocery store or some other type of business, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through an Indiana premises liability lawsuit. At the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, we represent injury victims across Indiana in premises liability lawsuits, and other personal injury claims. To learn more, call 888-532-7766 to schedule your free consultation today.
Federal Court Issues Opinion Limiting the Time Frame a Minor Has to Pursue an Indiana Personal Injury Claim against the Federal Government, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 11, 2019
Indiana Slip-and-Fall Accidents Caused by Snow and Ice, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 21, 2019