Store slip and fall settlements can include medical bills, wage loss, pain, suffering and disability. The losses or damages must be related to or caused by the slip and fall accident. This requires an expert medical opinion from the doctor attesting that the slip and fall incident was a substantial factor in causing the injury or aggravation of a pre-existing condition. In addition, the medical bills are recoverable if the treatment was reasonable and necessary as a result of the slip and fall. But any recovery of damages is predicated upon the store owner or operator being legally liable.

In Wisconsin, a store owner or operator must use ordinary care under the existing circumstances to construct, manage and maintain the premises to avoid exposing customers to an unreasonable risk of harm. “Ordinary care” is the degree of care, which the great mass of people ordinarily uses under the same or similar circumstances.  A store fails to use ordinary care when, without intending to do any wrong, it does an act or omits a precaution under circumstances in which a store owner or operator of ordinary intelligence and prudence should reasonably foresee that the act or omission will subject another person to an unreasonable risk of injury or damage. In performing this duty, store must use ordinary care to discover conditions or defects on the property, which expose a person to an unreasonable risk of harm.  If an unreasonable risk of harm existed and the store was aware of it, or, if in the use of ordinary care should have been aware of it, then it was the store’s duty to either correct the condition or danger or warn other persons of the condition or risk as was reasonable under the circumstances.

The biggest hurdle in proving store negligence is proving notice – that the store knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. It is a defense to the case if the store successfully argues that it did not have time to clean up the liquid on the floor or the salt the ice in its parking lot. Rarely can an injured party prove actual notice, because the store personnel are not going to admit, yeah we saw the dangerous condition but did not remedy it. More likely the injured person will have to prove constructive notice, that the store should have been aware of the danger. The key issue in proving constructive notice is time. The injured person must be able to articulate that the dangerous condition existed for a period of time that a reasonable store would have noticed it. Time is the key to successful slip and fall settlements.

McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.