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Claims against Louisiana merchants for injury from unsafe conditions

A customer slips on a wet floor in a grocery store, falls and sustains a head injury. The patron of a hardware store trips on an uneven floor and fractures his wrist breaking his fall. The liability of the merchant in this kind of incident is called premises liability, and in Louisiana, there is a special statute governing slip-and-fall claims against negligent merchants for falls on merchant floors and in aisles.

The injured customer may file a premises liability lawsuit against the merchant seeking to recover compensation for loss of wages, medical expenses, rehabilitation and therapy costs, and other losses from the injury.

Merchant duty to keep store premises in a reasonably safe condition

The statute says that a merchant (whose business it is to sell “goods, foods, wares, or merchandise at a fixed place of business”) has a duty to those on the store premises to exercise reasonable care to keep them in a reasonably safe condition, including free of hazards. A person injured from falling on a merchant’s premises because of a condition there must prove all these elements:

  1. The condition presented a reasonably foreseeable, but unreasonable risk of harm to the customer.
  2. Before the fall, the merchant created or had “actual or constructive notice” of the dangerous condition that caused the fall. The merchant had constructive notice if the condition if the exercise of reasonable care would have uncovered it.
  3. The merchant did not exercise reasonable care vis-à-vis the dangerous condition.

Legal assistance

An experienced lawyer can make the difference in a premises liability claim, which can be challenging to prove at times. Legal counsel will kick off a wide-ranging investigation of the circumstances of the mishap in order to uncover all relevant evidence for the case. This evidence can be important leverage in negotiating for a fair settlement with the merchant (and their insurer), or if necessary, in the courtroom.

Legal counsel can also obtain a thorough medical assessment of the long-term medical needs resulting from the slip and fall so that adequate compensation for needs over future years is obtained.

Finally, while the Louisiana statute governing merchant premises liability provides a remedy for this specific kind of negligence, other types of claims may also be available, depending on the circumstances, such as one based on general negligence. A lawyer can assess other potential legal remedies and all potentially responsible parties, including insurance companies.

The attorneys at The Townsley Law Firm in Lake Charles represents the victims of injury in southwest Louisiana and beyond sustained in stores and other commercial premises in personal injury lawsuits.

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