Generally, the operator of a business owes a duty of reasonable care for the safety of members of the public who are invited as customers to his/her business premises. This includes a duty to warn and inspect for dangerous conditions and to use reasonable care to maintain the premises so they are reasonably safe for invitees.
It is usually a question of fact for a jury whether, under all of the circumstances, a defective condition existed long enough so an owner exercising reasonable care would have discovered it. Constructive knowledge exists if the unsafe condition has been present long enough that a person exercising ordinary care would have discovered it.
Slipping on water at a business is a common personal injury claim. However, the mere presence of water on a floor where the plaintiff slipped is likely not enough to prove negligence by the possessor of the property. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the water made the floor dangerously slippery, and the property owner knew or should have known both that water would make the floor slippery, and that there was water on the floor at the time the plaintiff slipped.
Most rules have exceptions. Where the nature of the operator’s business and methods of operation are such that the existence of unsafe conditions on the premises are either continuous or reasonably foreseeable, then the establishment of notice by the owner/operator does apply. However, the injured plaintiff must still prove that the defendant failed to take reasonable care to prevent the injury.
A business operator also has a duty to protect customers and visitors from reasonably foreseeable injury from other patrons. This includes a duty to warn patrons of a potential danger created by other patrons themselves. For example, a court has held that it was for a jury to determine whether a store should have warned its customers of danger where a customer was injured by a shoplifter who was fleeing from store detectives.
If you or someone you know was injured due to the negligence of others, contact the injury attorneys with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP in Centralia or Olympia at (360) 736-1301 for a FREE Consultation and Case Evaluation!