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Slip and Fall Law in New York

Photo of Harlan Thompson

Does the Absence of a Proper Sign Mean Negligence?

Some of the most basic lessons law students are taught in their first year of law school are lessons from the world of tort law and negligence. And in the world of negligence, the classic story of a slip and fall accident is a must. We thought it best to share a story with you to perhaps peak your interest in the possibility of law school (yawn) or perhaps simply to see if you have ever faced a situation like the one below.

Lead Actor: Your run of the mill cleaning guy 'Joe' and his trusted employer "XYZ Grocery Store Limited".

Slip and Fall Victim(s):
35 year old mom with her 6-year-old daughter.

Slip and Fall Plot:
Our 6 year old needs to use the bathroom so mom decides to help her out. Joe just finished cleaning up and forgot to put out a 'caution - slippery when wet' sign. Our 6 year old decides to race her mom to the bathroom when she falls down as a result of the slippery floor. Mom, in an attempt, to save her little daughter, runs after her, only to fall face front over her daughter.

End Result: Plenty of broken bones. A trip to the hospital. Lots of crying. Joe is fired, and oh yeah, one big fat lawsuit against XYZ Grocery Store Limited for a slip and fall.

Why A Slip and Fall Lawsuit?

Did you ever wonder why those yellow signs were placed in front of a bathroom after cleaning? The obvious answer is to warn patrons of potential slippage due a wet floor because how else is someone to know that the floors were just washed. Plus, you washed the floor, you have knowledge of the fact that the floor is wet and might pose a danger to fellow patrons, and this knowledge puts you in a position to take reasonable care to warn your patrons of any potential dangers that might exist and that are not obvious.
Further, the various elements present on a sign are a result of a host of lawsuits. Lawsuits because the grocery stores in question failed to warn their customers of a slippery floor and as a result the court found them to be negligent.

  • The BOLD use of the word 'CAUTION' .... This is there to bring attention to the fact that the floor is slippery and that you should be extra careful. It's in bold and all caps to grab your attention.
  • The use of a YELLOW Signboard... the use of yellow is rather universal around the world and the main reason for using yellow is to make the sign stand out.
  • The use of a 'SLIPPING MAN Image... is to tell you that your failure to remain cautious might result in you slipping and falling down.
  • The RED in the sign... is to indicate danger.
  • The HEIGHT of the sign... is at a height that is in line with your eyes or point of focus. It's neither too low nor too high so that you will actually see it and read it.

The morale of the story is simple - if you or a loved one were involved in an accident that involved a slippery floor at a commercial establishment (such as a grocery store, electronics store, amusement park etc.) and a sign similar to the image above was missing, you may have a potential slip and fall lawsuit on your hands. Contact the attorneys at Pulvers, Pulvers & Thompson for help with your case.

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