Spokane shoppers have a lot of choices but sometimes a trip to the mall is the easiest way to make everyone in the family happy. Whether it’s the classic NorthTown Mall, in business since 1955, or the newer Spokane Valley Mall or even the upscale River Park Square, the variety in Spokane is a plus.
You may make a beeline to the biggest sale or the tastiest treat and miss some of the potential dangers.. There are usually lots of shiny floors, escalators, and crowds to navigate. Plenty of distractions to perhaps take our attention away from looking where we step.
Shopping Spree Hazards
The idea behind the mall is to centralize all those stores under one roof to draw in shoppers. There’s plenty of parking. It’s climate-controlled and a little rain won’t shut down business.
Those same positives for the customer can also lead to slip and fall hazards. The mall operators and national merchants want your money, but they also owe you a safe buying experience.
These are just some of the most common dangers:
- Spills—Liquids and food on the floor. The easiest to prevent, but of course, sometimes mall employees are either careless or not quick enough to clean up a hazard.
- The parking lot or garage– The danger starts as you park your car. Broken pavement, unsafe stairwells, and landscaping debris can trip you up before you even reach the front doors.
- Merchandise In The Aisles—Careless shoppers or shelf 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.
Comparative Negligence in Washington
You may be embarrassed by your fall or you might not know who to contact to seek compensation for your medical bills. A list released by The National Flooring Safety Institute details just how many victims are out there. One million people a year go to the emergency room after a slip and fall. There are plenty of people that have found themselves on the floor after taking a spill.
You may even think your slip was partly your fault. Don’t worry. You may still collect damages because Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. This means the blame can be divided between the people and companies involved.
For instance, if it’s determined you weren’t watching where you were going the retailer can still be liable for part of the injuries. You might take 25% of the responsibility and the store would still be held at fault for 75% of the damages.
Making a Mall Injury Claim
Under Washington law, the owner of any property has a duty to keep the area that is open to the public reasonably free from dangerous hazards. If the owner fails and someone gets injured, then a 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 owner, or
- The owner knew of the hazard and didn’t fix it in a reasonably timely manner.
In most cases, the owner is likely going to say that they didn’t create the problem, or that they were fixing the problem in a reasonable amount of time. The majority of claims for mall injures are routinely denied by the insurance company who will wait until they know you can put together a proper claim before they take you seriously.
At Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S., we know how to successfully make a mall injury claim, and we know how to counter the owner’s defenses and to deal with the insurance companies.
Beware of Talking to Insurance Adjusters
The insurer for the retail company 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 the insurance company. 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.
Contact a Spokane Premises Liability Lawyer
A slip and fall injury can change your life and take your freedom. It could prevent you from visiting the mall or doing any shopping for a long time to come. You need to ensure a full recovery without being left alone to face hospital bills and possible missed time from work. You need an attorney at your side who knows the law and has experience beating insurance companies and their lawyers.
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.