Slip and fall hazard on floor with caution signThe basis of California slip and fall law stems from proving a property owner breached a duty owed to the injured slip and fall victim. Injured parties used to be faced with the frightful burden of proving both breach of duty and notice. Over time, the courts have eased the injured parties' burden in regard to this burden (rightfully so too in my opinion). A 1954 California case called Hale v. Safeway Stores held that frequent inspection of the sales areas in markets was necessary and that 12-15 minutes between inspections would not be unreasonable.

The Rise of Sweep Logs

However, other jurisdictions have adopted a similar rule holding that the foreseeability of the circumstances would create a condition that could pose a danger to the patrons. As a result of the number of lawsuits filed over the years and as a means of providing a reasonably safe shopping environment, supermarket and grocery chains developed safety procedures through which hazards could more quickly be identified and abated (if possible). Thus, this effort led to the rise of sweep logs which many retail stores use today. A sweep log identifies the time and routine an aisle or portion of a retail store's floor is inspected for hazardous debris. The sweep log can also be admitted as evidence into a slip and fall trial, if need be, to prove no notice or notice of hazardous condition and the retail store's failure to remedy the hazardous condition. 

Critical Elements of a San Diego California Slip and Fall Accident Case

As you should know, there must be some type of hazard if a negligence action is to succeed. Wet or contaminated floors are the most common cause of supermarket slip and fall accidents. Merchandise or debris on the floor is often alleged to be the accident cause; structural failures and defects in the walkway surface come in at a distant third too. Most often, the hazards are self-documenting and do not require expert testimony at trial to establish the existence of a hazardous condition. For example, spilled cooking oil or grease on a smooth floor or surface creates an undeniably super slick or slippery surface condition. Common sense will tell a jury member that without hesitation! Liquids, vegetables, fruits, and other debris fall into the same general category, and while testing the floor surface is helpful in a slip and fall case, its importance is secondary to establishing notice.

Notice is simply the main theme or issue in nearly every California retail store slip and fall injury case; it is just the way it is here in California. Since actual notice is rarely supported by the facts of an injury case, constructive notice must be established by the injured slip and fall victim. This is most often done through expert testimony at trial. If an injured party cannot prove actual notice, constructive or implied notice, or cannot show that the retail store owner did not safely maintain his or her premises through regular, frequent, and competent inspections or cleanings, there is little hope for success on a California slip and fall injury case!
Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney
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