Anytime you walk into a business open to the public, you might see a “Wet Floor” sign, especially in casinos and hotels. You’ll see them when it’s raining out, if someone spilled something, or if the floor was recently mopped. Businesses put the signs up to keep you safe. The signs also reduce a business’s legal liability for slip and fall accidents.
This piece focuses on Wet Floor sign laws and how to hold businesses liable for violating them and injuring you.
Premises Liability Laws
Premises liability laws state that a property owner must keep their premises safe, even from open and obvious dangers. Over the years, the law has shifted from not awarding damages if the danger was open and obvious to awarding damages, even in the case of open and obvious dangers, unless the property owner warned the victim of any danger. “Wet Floor” signs are the standard way businesses fulfill this duty to warn invitees of a possible slip and fall situation.
Higher Duty of Care for Businesses to Warn of Safety Hazards, Including Wet Floors
Businesses, such as casinos, have a higher “duty of care” to keep invitees safe. A duty of care is the level of careful and reasonable conduct one is legally required to exercise toward others. Business owners meet their duty of care by ensuring that their property is safe for customers. For instance, casinos are expected to put up “Wet Floor” signs wherever the floors might get slippery, whether from a spill of drinks in the casino restaurant or a leak in a restroom. A business owner must be vigilant in monitoring potential hazards and either eliminate such hazards discovered or warn those in the place of business of the hazard.
If a business does not provide adequate warning of a wet floor, a person injured from an accidental slip on the floor can hold the business legally liable for any injuries the customer suffers. Wet floor signs must be noticeable. Employees cannot leave the signs out longer than it takes to clean up a spill. In the event of a lawsuit where an invitee slips and falls despite the presence of a “Wet Floor” sign, the jury has a duty to weigh all of the evidence to determine if the business owner was nonetheless negligent.
A business cannot pin the blame or liability on an employee. The business owner is responsible for his or her employees and is legally liable for the actions of employees, including those that result in slip and fall damages.
After a Slip and Fall
If you slipped or tripped and fell in a casino, hotel, or another place of business, there are certain steps you should take, if physically able, to protect your ability to collect compensation. Take pictures of what caused you to trip or slip. If you wait for investigators, the issue will most likely be removed or cleaned up. If you slipped on a wet floor, take note of any wet floor signs around you—or lack thereof. Did you walk from a wet carpet to a dry tile floor? Was it raining out? Did someone spill something?
You should also seek medical attention immediately and notify the business that you slipped or tripped and fell. Some businesses may have surveillance video, which you may need to acquire through a compensation claim. Most casinos have every inch of space covered by surveillance cameras.
You Have Limited Time to File a Claim
In the event of a slip and fall accident, make sure you get the business’s insurance information as soon as possible, as you will have a limited amount of time to file a claim with them. If the business states that it will file a claim, be sure to follow up with the business expeditiously. Depending on the insurance company, you could have as little as 14 to 30 days to file a claim.
If you instead bring a lawsuit to recover compensation, you have more time. States set limits on the time in which those injured in wet floor accidents may file a slip and fall lawsuit, which is typically one or two years from the date of the accident. While that seems like a long time, it goes fast when dealing with all of the hectic matters that can follow an accident. For this reason, if you try filing a claim with the business’s insurance company, keep an eye on the deadline for filing a lawsuit if you can’t secure fair compensation from the insurer.
Recoverable Damages for a Slip and Fall in a Casino or Other Business
In a slip or trip and fall accident in a casino or other place of business, you can recover compensatory damages, which includes economic damages and non-economic damages. A court orders economic damages and non-economic damages in an attempt to make a victim whole again. In other words, you recover money for damages because you would not have had to spend money or experienced certain costs if the defendant hadn’t caused the injury.
Economic damages, often include:
- Past medical expenses, and future medical expenses for cases where continuing medical treatment for the wet floor accident injury is expected to be necessary after a settlement or trial award
- Past lost wages, and future lost wages for where one cannot earn income, or will earn less after a settlement or trial award
- Replacement or repair of personal property that was destroyed or damaged in the incident
- If an accident leads to death, funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses for the decedents’ survivors.
Non-economic damages, also referred to as general damages, include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a finger or foot
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as eyesight
- Severe scarring
- Loss of companionship or loss of consortium
After the accident, it is best to consult with a law firm that has experience with premise liability cases. A slip and fall lawyer can answer your questions and decide if you have a good case against a store, casino, or other property owner whose negligence resulted in your injury.