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Proving Your Slip and Fall Case in RI and MA

Karns & Kerrison

There are many inroads in proving the notice requirement in a slip & fall case including the wear and tear of the defect such as a liquid spilled in a grocery store or retail store. Track marks in the liquid from shopping carts can show that the liquid was there for awhile and, more importantly, that the store knew or should have known of the problem and cleaned it up.

Another example of proving notice would be in a failure to clear ice or snow properly where a weather report is obtained to show that there was no precipitation for a day or two prior to the fall. This highlights the fact that the liable party had plenty of time to clear the ice or snow and did not. The same concept can be utilized in defects in flooring or on walkways or parking lots. In producing evidence of how long the defect or hole has been there, showing that the liable party had plenty of time to fix it, proof that they knew or should have known of the defect is established.

Some case law in Massachusetts, known as the "mode of operation" rule, is gaining support in Rhode Island. The rule states that in a self service store - retail or grocery, etc. - if it can be shown that the nature of the owners business gives rise to a substantial risk of injury to customers from slip & fall accidents, and it is reasonably foreseeable that a dangerous condition would occur, the store owner can then be found liable for injuries to the shopper.

The shopper must prove that the store owner failed to take all reasonable precautions necessary to protect the shopper from the foreseeable and dangerous conditions. What this means is that notice requirement is established if the injury is attributable to a reasonably foreseeable dangerous condition on the owners premises that is related to the owners self service mode of operation.

So rather than having to prove that the store owner or person in charge of the premises knew or should have known of that exact problem (spill on the floor, etc.), it is necessary only to prove that this condition is foreseeable based upon the store using the self service mode of operation.

In grocery stores, produce on the floor that people fall on is a natural consequence of the self service mode of operation making the store owner liable. This doctrine can extend to any type of self service store including grocery, retail, etc.

Because slip & fall injuries can be extremely serious and devastating, care must be taken in obtaining proper representation by a law firm that is extremely experienced in handling slip and fall cases. Karns & Kerrison has handled slip and fall cases since 1974 and is extremely well versed in representing slip and fall victims regarding complexities of the law, the facts of the case and the serious injuries. If you or someone you know has sustained a personal injury by a slip & fall, contact our office now for a free consultation or more information at any of our convenient RI locations.


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If you or your loved one suffered severe, life-altering injuries due to someone else’s negligence, we are here to help you fight for justice. For answers to your questions or to schedule a free consultation, contact our personal injury team at (888) 281-3100. We offer our legal services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay attorneys’ fees after we have recovered compensation on your behalf.

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