Gas stations have come a long way from being a gas-only service center. With the advent of the convenience mart, gas stations have become a one-stop-shop for drinks, hot food, and restrooms. While these convenience stores are offering more and more services to attract your business, they also owe you and your family a safe visit.
But with all of the extra services, there are wet floors from spilled drinks, mopped floors, and poorly maintained restrooms. Each of these can create hazardous slip-and-fall conditions.
Gas Station Hazards to your Health
Anything from the spill of a 40oz drink to a pool of motor oil can provide a hazard at a gas station. You can be sent into a slip and fall landing on a hard parking lot or a shiny floor. Back injuries and even broken bones are possible.
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), slip and fall accidents account for 12% of the eight million hospital visits a year seen from all types of falls. Fractures, especially a broken hip, remain one of the toughest injuries to recover from in these accidents.
One moment you’re pumping fuel and the next you’re on the ground with a debilitating injury. A long, painful recovery may be the result. You may be left to wonder if the injury could have been prevented and who will be held responsible for the medical bills you’ll face.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you with these questions. A local attorney can help you determine the best path to getting compensation from the operators responsible for the gas station.
Common Slip and Fall Dangers
When you pull up beside the pump or walk inside to get a drink, you may not even think to look down. Unfortunately, you’ll never see some of the biggest hazards that can dump you on the ground, but they are laying everywhere.
These are just some of the most common dangers:
- Spills—Gas stations, like any store, can present the threat of candy or spilled drinks in the aisles. The added risk is around the gas pumps. One of the most slippery substances on earth is motor oil. These deposits build up with each new car that pulls up. Even uncleaned bathrooms can force you to fall.
- The parking lot- Broken pavement, unsafe steps, and landscaping debris can trip you up before you even reach the front doors.
- Merchandise In The Aisles—Careless stockers leave items on the floor. Just small enough for your eyes to miss. You walk right into a box or other item and take a tumble.
- Floor Hazards- Broken Tiles, uneven surfaces, or even a misplaced floor mat can send you sprawling. Poor lighting can also contribute when you can’t see floor issues well enough to avoid.
- Weather Hazards- Rainwater and snow and ice can make the trip to the sliding doors and into the store treacherous. These are all things an owner and operator is responsible for clearing.
Premises Liability for Gas Station Accidents
Washington law provides protection for the customer. The operator of any retail store must keep an area that is open to the public reasonably free from dangerous hazards. If the owner fails in this duty and someone gets injured, then a premises liability claim can be made. The law allows for two primary ways to prove negligence.
The victim needs to show that the hazard was:
- Created by the proprietor, or
- The proprietor knew of the hazard and didn’t fix it in a reasonable amount of time.
In most cases, the proprietor will probably deny they created the issue, or say that they were attempting to fix the problem in a timely manner. It’ll be up to you to prove otherwise.
Local Gas Stations and Nationwide Chains
A gas station may be a local business or they could be part of a national chain across the Pacific Northwest. There are as many store names as there are oil companies. Here are just a few of the local examples of gas stations that are responsible for your safety:
Beware of Talking to Insurance Adjusters
It’s important to remember that if you’re physically able to, you should report your injury to the gas station manager immediately. But keep in mind, that should be the last time you talk to anyone from the gas station, their company that owns them or anyone representing their insurance company.
The insurer for the service station you’ll be hoping to get compensation from will likely try to get a recorded statement from you or any family member who witnessed the accident. Do not talk to them. The insurance adjuster only wants those statements to weaken your case.
They may seem caring and compassionate, but their job is to give you as little settlement money as possible. It may not even be enough to cover your medical bills. Never give any type of a written or recorded statement to an opposing insurer.
Washington Deadline for Filing a Claim
Victims in a slip and fall accident have up to three years after an accident to file a claim for damages according to state statutes. It is not recommended to wait long to file your claim because the more time that passes after an accident the harder it will be to collect evidence, locate witnesses, and retrieve the documents you’ll need to build a strong case.
If the owner and operators of a gas station are found at fault, state law allows for compensation for the injured person. These awards for damages may cover medicals bills, rehab and treatment, lost time from work now and in the future. Compensation can also cover permanent disability, pain, and mental anguish.
Contact a Spokane Premises Liability Lawyer
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at a gas station you may have to face a local owner and operator to seek compensation. But if the gas station is part of a national chain you might even have to challenge a nationwide corporation and their team of lawyers. It’s important to have an experienced Spokane attorney on your side to level the playing field. You should be focused on your recovery while letting us handle the insurance companies and legal teams to get you the compensation you’ll need to heal from physical and emotional damages.
Established in Spokane in 1948, Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S. is committed to providing our clients with the absolute highest quality legal representation. If our Premises Liability Lawyers represent you for your accident case, you have our assurance that we will use our absolute best efforts to win your case. Contact us after any accident resulting in a serious injury for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation. We will only offer you advice which is in your best interest.