As a major metropolitan area in the United States, Chicago is home to several popular shopping malls. For example, 900 North Michigan Shops, Oakbrook Center, Woodfield Mall, and Randolph Street Antique Market all boast hundreds of thousands of feet of retail space for their shoppers to enjoy. With thousands of visitors on a daily basis, there are bound to be some that suffer injuries in these shopping centers. Many shoppers slip and fall in Chicago shopping centers and experience serious injuries.
Shopping centers are especially packed on weekends and during the holiday season. Black Friday sales attract thousands of eager shoppers—many of whom camp out at storefronts the night before to ensure they get the best deals. In such crowded conditions, spills may occur without store employees noticing. However, this does not mean that stores and shopping centers can avoid liability if a shopper slips and falls.
When are stores liable for falls?
Stores and shopping centers have a duty to keep their premises safe and free from hazards for their customers. This means keeping aisles clear of items that may cause customers to trip and fall, cleaning up spills as soon as possible, and monitoring crowds.
One of the central issues in a slip and fall case is how long the hazard that caused the fall was present in the store. For example, if a shopper spilled his soda, and another customer later slipped and fell in it, the store’s liability will depend on how much time had passed from the time of the spill until the time of the fall. If only five or ten minutes had passed, the store may be able to argue it did not have a reasonable amount of time to detect the spill and clean it up. However, if an hour or two had passed, the store may not be able to avoid liability.
What should shopping centers do to maintain customer safety?
Consider an especially busy shopping day—like Black Friday or the date a highly coveted item is released. Employees must watch shoppers carefully as they scramble to find the items they want. Aisles often become congested and spills are more likely to occur. However, if the shopping center has extra staff available on these busy days to regularly check on store conditions, customer safety should be maintained.
Shopping centers should also regularly inspect flooring, escalators, entranceways, and other common areas for any issues. Loose tiles, slick surfaces, and other potential hazards should be removed or repaired before customers are injured. If several customers complained about such a hazard before another customer was injured, the shopping center may not be able to avoid liability for the incident.
Contact us to discuss your slip and fall claim
At Stein & Shulman, our slip and fall attorneys are experienced in a variety of claims. We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. To schedule your free consultation, call 312-422-0500.