The Law on Wet Floor Signs at Businesses

Accident Lawyer
Personal Injury Lawyer

No one needs a personal injury lawyer to tell them how devastating a slip and fall incident can be. Any victim would be lucky to walk away with just bumps and bruises, because lots of people come out of such experiences with broken bones and head trauma. Many even die on the spot; the figures there have gone up at least 30 percent in past decade.

Most businesses and public establishments try to prevent this by putting up stark yellow signs proclaiming “wet floor”. In fact, commercial establishments are legally obligated to make sure customers are amply warned about this and other dangerous conditions beforehand. That said, if you do get injured while at a place of business, you could pursue and win compensation from the owner even if they had put up a wet floor sign before the accident.

Premises liability assigns responsibility on commercial establishments for keeping their property free of dangerous conditions and defects, which could lead to injuries. Termed as “Duty of Care”, this obligates them to take every reasonably possible step to make the environment hazard-free. Wet-floor signs fall under this category of measures, which is why management is expected to place them around slippery areas. Failing this, they would have violated their legally assigned duty of care, inviting changes of negligence. A business would be seen as legally negligent if the following things were proven.

  • Management was aware of the floor being wet, or should have been
  • The manager failed to factor in the possibility of injury this brought in
  • Management neglected to perform reasonable steps towards warning customers and keeping them off the wet floor
  • This laxity caused the accident which resulted in your injuries
  • These injuries have been medically verified
  • You were not, in any measure, responsible for the fall

The duty of care rule does have an exception. The management or employees of the business should have had reasonable time to discover the wetness on the floor, and to take reasonable steps to make the place safe for people. If they were able to prove that the accident happened prior to both of those measures could be taken, then they would not be seen as negligent by the court, and would owe you no compensation.

Suppose you were at a supermarket, and the sprinklers placed in the produce section were to come on at 03:00 pm. You walk right down the aisle without any knowledge of the water that is now pooled on the floor; slip, try to catch yourself, fail, and fall hard; breaking an arm in the process. Whether or not store management was negligent, is contingent on specific aspects of the situation.

  • If management was unaware there was water on the floor before you stepped in it, then they are not required by law to compensate you for the injury. They need to have had a reasonable amount of time to discover the danger and to take steps to nullify it. Five minutes is not enough for a manager or employee to find the pooled water and put up a wet floor sign.
  • If someone employed by the business saw that the floor was wet, and had enough time to set up a warning before anyone walked over unawares, and failure on their part to take this action resulted in your injury, then you can sue them for damages and win legal compensation.
  • If management knew of a sprinkler problem and failed to attempt repairing it, then the five-minute interval would be rendered irrelevant. Since they could have reasonably predicted the water on the floor and how it could hurt someone, they are legally liable to provide compensation for losses suffered.

Common Damages Incurred in Slip and Fall Incidents

  • Lost wages, including vacation time and sick days used during treatment
  • Expected medical expenses in the future
  • Out-of-pocket expenses in the way of assistive devices, medications, etc.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future lost earnings
  • Medical treatment costs

Negligence Claims against a Government Entity

If you injure yourself in a building, which is run by a government entity, such as the post office, motor vehicle administration, public library, police department, or county hospital, the claim that you place would be directed against the government. Such a claim would need to be submitted on a special form, based on the type of agency you are dealing with.

An accident lawyer can tell you exactly what steps to take to ensure you receive your just entitlements. With the right style and level of negotiation or litigation, you can make sure that your losses are compensated to the maximum as provisioned by law.