Slip and fall accidents lead to thousands of serious injuries every year. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and falls account for more than one million trips to the emergency room annually in the United States. Commercial establishments have a legal duty to keep their properties safe and warn visitors about wet floors. However, “wet floor” signs are not a legal requirement. Find out how the presence of a “wet floor” sign – or the lack thereof – could affect your slip and fall claim in Connecticut.
Yes and no. While the use of a “wet floor” sign is not a legal mandate, it is often necessary to meet a property owner’s duty of care. The duty of care refers to the obligation to use a reasonable amount of care to prevent harm to others. A property owner has different duties of care based on the circumstances, such as the type of premises (commercial vs. residential) and the type of visitor (invitee, licensee or trespasser).
Commercial establishments owe the highest duties of care to customers. One of these duties is to warn those who enter of any potential defects or hazards, including wet floors. Most businesses fulfill this duty by placing “wet floor” signs in conspicuous locations. If a property owner breaches the duty of care by failing to use these signs, the owner can be held financially responsible for a resultant slip and fall accident.
The presence of a “wet floor” sign does not prevent a person from filing a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the establishment after a slip and fall. Warning customers with signage is not an automatic defense to liability. An injured accident victim can still recover financial compensation for a fall accident if he or she can prove negligence, or the failure to meet the duty of care. For example:
The burden of proof in a premises liability lawsuit is a preponderance of the evidence. This means evidence that proves the property owner was negligent, and this caused the slip and fall accident, with at least a 51 percent certainty. If a slip and fall case involves the presence of a “wet floor” sign, this can make it more difficult to prove. The plaintiff’s personal injury attorney will need to demonstrate that despite the warning sign, the property owner failed to use reasonable care to prevent the accident.
Wet floors are a foreseeable hazard – especially if the weather outside is wet. It is common knowledge that a wet floor can cause a slip and fall accident. This makes it a property owner’s legal duty to protect visitors from this hazard. If the safety measure taken by a property owner was to put up a “wet floor” sign, this may or may not fulfill the owner’s duty of care, depending on the circumstances.
You may face the comparative negligence defense during this type of claim in Connecticut if there was a sign posted and you reasonably should have seen it. This argument could reduce your compensatory award by an amount equivalent to your percentage of fault for the accident. You will still be eligible for partial compensation, however, as long as you are found to be 51 percent or less at fault. For more information about slip and fall cases and “wet floor” signs in Connecticut, contact an attorney to request a free consultation.