COULD A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT BE ON THE MENU?
Slip and fall? Why, that can happen anywhere, to anyone, any time. But during this particular summer of 2021, as we get busy shedding masks and heading out for lunch or dinner with family or friends, it’s important to keep in mind – a favorite restaurant has the potential to become an accident waiting to happen. In fact, many accidents do occur in restaurants, where the space is often crowded with stools, chairs, and tables, with servers scurrying about toting trays of food and drinks that can easily spill onto the floor.
Happily, most restaurant accidents are “oops!” affairs, with perhaps some hurt pride, some spills on clothing, perhaps even a personal apology from management along with a coupon for a free dessert. Unfortunately, some people suffer serious, even life-threatening injuries in restaurants…
At Ramey & Hailey Law, we’re always cautioning people who’ve been in an auto accident, even if they think they’re fine, to get checked out by a doctor. Similarly, even if you think you’re fine after slipping and falling in a restaurant, never say “Never mind!” Some injuries are not immediately noticeable, particularly if they are internal or involve a brain or spinal cord trauma. If it becomes obvious that 911 needs to be called, have the injured person remain in place, letting others summon help. The manager or owner of the eatery should be notified of the incident.
But, even if it seems apparent no serious injury has occurred, it’s important to capture some “just-in-case” photos to document the scene. Cell phone photos can show uneven flooring, grease stains, or obstacles in aisles. And if the accident fall happened in the parking lot or patio outside the restaurant, pics can show the pothole or crack that was the culprit. Take notes, including the manager’s name and contact information, along with the exact name and address of the restaurant itself.
All you may have wanted was to enjoy a well-prepared steak and some ambiance. Now, however, there are some legal principles at work. The insurance company is going to want to know, as Nolo.com explains:
- Did the hazardous condition exist long enough that a reasonable property owner – or restaurant employee – could have taken action in time to prevent the accident from happening? Did the servers check the floor and mop up spills as soon as they happened? Was inadequate lighting the problem?
- Was your own behavior or that of someone in your party boisterous, bouncing up from their seats, getting in the way of the servers?
We’re all happy to be out and about once more, but be alert and aware of your surroundings – slip and fall accidents can turn a pleasant evening out into a big problem!