If the business owner knows or should have known of a dangerous condition on the premises that they knew was possible or "foreseeable" or could present a danger to patrons, thenA Slip and Fall Sign Posted To Prevent a Slip and Fall Accident they are said to have a duty to exercise ordinary care in either:

1. Removing the hazard; or
2. At the very least, warning of the hazard

The patron has an absolute right to assume that the business premises are reasonably safe unless there are obvious conditions or indications contrary to that assumption.  Let's explore the following case example:

A plaintiff entered a fast food restaurant inside a shopping mall and noticed one of the employees mopping up the floor. The plaintiff saw at least one warning sign saying "Wet Floor | Caution."  After the plaintiff finished eating at the restaurant, she slipped and fell, causing herself bodily injury; she thinks she slipped on the water even though she did not see any water before falling, but noticed after the fall her clothes were wet.  After the fall, the plaintiff saw the same warning sign but no employees with mops or mopping the floor.  The fast food restaurant manager testified that the fall occurred outside the perimeter marked by any of the warning signs.  The slip and fall victim expert testified that the wet floor was slippery and, thereby, dangerous to walk on. Also, the slipperiness was increased due to improper rinsing and drying of the floor surface.  After the trial, the verdict was a victory for the fast food restaurant, but the slip and fall victim appealed because she could not instruct the jury on the owner's duty to remedy or warn of the hazard.  The Appeal Court agreed and held that fast food restaurants have a duty to use effective warning devices.

The above California case happened in 1986, and it formed the foundation of a modification to California jury instruction BAJI 8.01, which now reads:

"The owner of premises is under a duty to exercise ordinary care in the use, maintenance, or management of such premises to avoid exposing persons to an unreasonable amount of harm. Such duty exists whether the risk of harm is caused by the natural condition of such premises or by an artificial condition created on such premises."

The court rationalized that the owner of a business has a never-ending duty to keep the premises reasonably safe and to inspect for any potential hazards or defects.  Now, the business owner is not the absolute insurer of a patron's absolute safety; they owe an undisputed affirmative duty to exercise due reasonable care to keep all shopping aisles, floors, and passageways in a safe type of condition and at the same time, they must discover and then correct as soon as possible (reasonable time) and discovered dangerous conditions.

Retail store owners should always keep aisles free from clutter and prevent stocking any unstable merchandise.  Thus, displays, shelving, and aisles should be inspected regularly, and they should keep sweep logs.