Stop & Shop Supermarket Company was founded in Massachusetts and has hundreds of stores all over the New England area. It is the type of store that everyone visits on a regular basis, but few people think about the potential dangers inside. Grocery stores present several hazards with the potential to cause serious injury. If you slipped, fell, and suffered an avoidable injury at a Stop & Shop, you may be able to recover the losses caused by the accident.
Common Causes of Accidents at a Stop & Shop
Just like any other property owner, the owner or manager of a Stop & Shop has a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for employees and customers. However, people commonly fall in grocery stores because of dangerous conditions, such as:
- Punctured or broken packaging causing items to spill on the floor
- Boxes, pallets, or equipment left unattended in aisles during normal hours
- Water left on the floor around the produce area
- Improperly placed floor mats
- Overflowing sinks or toilets
- Cords and power cables left uncovered
- Remaining open during remodeling or not properly roping off a construction area
- Failing to clear snow and ice in the parking lot or walkway areas
- Bad lighting
- Missing or unstable handrails
- Worn tread on stairways
Any of these conditions could result in a serious slip and fall accident.
Areas Where Most Accidents Happen
Most grocery store accidents occur in a few areas where spills commonly occur and traffic is high:
- Entrances and exits: These areas have the most traffic, and mats on the floor are subject to rapid wear and tear. These areas are also prone to wet conditions during inclement weather.
- Produce section: Customers often drop water on the floor when selecting produce items, and several sections are self-watering.
- Check-out: This is another high-traffic area with customers moving around quickly to get in line first.
- Frozen food section: Large refrigeration units often leak when broken. Water, which is hard to see, may spill out in front of the doors.
Supermarket managers commonly mandate regular aisle safety checks for employees several times throughout a shift. However, employees sometimes fail to complete them, and managers often fail to ensure that they are completed.
Potential Injuries Caused by a Slip and Fall Accident
Seniors and small children are particularly vulnerable to falls, and seniors are more likely to suffer a serious injury from even a minor fall. Potential slip and fall injuries ranging from mild to serious include:
- Bruises and lacerations
- Broken or fractured bones, most commonly the wrists, ankles, and hip bones
- Traumatic brain injuries, which can be as mild as a small concussion or as serious as a fractured skull or hemorrhage
- Knee injury
- Wrist and ankle sprains
- Muscle strains and sprains
Even if you feel fine following a slip and fall accident, you should see a doctor right away. If you hit your head, you may have a concussion, which can be deadly when left untreated. Additionally, seeking medical attention creates a formal record of your injuries that will be useful in a personal injury lawsuit.
Damages You May Recover
Physical injuries that require medical treatment are sometimes financially devastating. If your fall was the result of negligence committed by the owner or staff at the Stop & Shop, you could recover the following losses:
- Economic damages: cost of past and future medical treatment, cost of past and future lost wages, loss of consortium, loss of earning capability, property damage, and all other expenses related to your injury
- Non-economic damages: pain and suffering, mental distress or anguish, depression, anxiety, loss of enjoyment in life
You can calculate economic damages using medical bills, pay stubs, and other documentation of costs related to the accident. An attorney can help you value the non-economic damages that are more difficult to quantify. These compensatory damages are commonly awarded in slip and fall cases. Punitive damages are much rarer. You would need to prove that a malicious and egregious act by the owner or a member of staff led to your injury, and the likelihood of that in a slip and fall case is tiny.
Massachusetts Laws That Apply to Slip and Fall Cases
If you file a slip and fall accident lawsuit in Massachusetts, there are three laws that are pertinent to your case: premises liability, statute of limitations, and comparative negligence. A better understanding of these laws will help you make decisions for your case and know what information and evidence are important.
The legal concept of premises liability plays a large role in slip and fall accident cases. It specifically refers to the legal responsibility of the property owner to ensure that the property is safe for all public and private guests that visit. Most states follow the rule that a property owner has a duty of care, but some states still limit the duties of property owners by the status to the visitor. Massachusetts allows injured parties to file legal claims when the injury occurred on someone else’s property and was the result of negligence or a breach of duty of care. To be eligible for compensation, you must have been legally allowed on the premises. Stop & Shop is a public store, therefore, you are always legally allowed to be there as long as the store is open.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the legal timeframe allotted to file a lawsuit. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations is three years for a slip and fall accident case, and the time frame starts on the day of the accident. If you attempt to file a lawsuit once the deadline passes, your case will be dismissed by the court.
The rule of comparative negligence allows the property owner to argue that you bear some responsibility for the accident, and therefore, you should be responsible for part of the damages. Under this rule, the percentage of fault that belongs to you is deducted from the total amount awarded to you. For example, if you are found 10% at fault for the accident and are awarded $50,000, you receive $45,000 after the 10% deduction. Additionally, Massachusetts follows the rule of modified comparative negligence, which means that you are only eligible for compensation as long you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. Some arguments you should expect from the property owner include:
- The dangerous condition was obvious.
- Your footwear was not appropriate for shopping in the store.
- The dangerous area was marked or partitioned off.
- You were not watching where you were walking and walked into the area.
As the plaintiff, you carry the burden of proving that the property owner is at fault for your accident. This process is often complex in slip and fall cases. An experienced slip and fall accident attorney can help you navigate the legal process and prove the owner’s negligence.
How a Slip and Fall Accident Attorney Can Help You
The financial burden placed on the victims of a slip and fall accident at Stop & Shop can be immense. To help alleviate that burden, Jason Stone Injury Lawyers require no upfront fee to get started on your case. The first element of the Stone Cold Guarantee ensures we get paid only after you get paid. Our team is ready to assist you with your claim. Contact us today for a free immediate case evaluation.