You’ve probably seen them when you’re doing your shopping or in a public area. The ubiquitous “orange cones” that tell you to be careful of a nearby hazard. Placed on floors for a number of reasons, the sign is there to warn you of a danger that could cause you to slip and fall or otherwise get hurt.
The floor could have been freshly mopped after a spill, and an employee placed the sign to warn shoppers about the wet floor. But if the floor is dry, you may be wondering why it was still there.
Does it mean the store isn’t responsible for injuries if there is a sign on the floor?
Duty And Standard Of Care
Owners, managers and employees of shops are required to keep their business safe for visitors, employees, and others who may have a reason to be there. Should a hazard arise, such as a spill, they are required to either remedy the situation or put up signage that warns of the hazard, such as the orange cones. If the owner, manager, or employees neglected to either warn invited visitors of a dangerous condition, remedy or repair it, they can be held liable for your injuries.
The store is liable for a slip and fall if they were negligent, and if your injuries were caused as a direct result of the negligence, such as not clearing a floor of liquid or debris or putting up the signs in a timely manner.
As an injured plaintiff, your job will be to prove that the other party was negligent, and that they knew or should have known about the hazard so that they could put up a warning sign. The longer the hazard existed without the benefit of a warning, the more likely you’ll be able to prove the store’s negligence.
Responsibility In A Slip and Fall Accident
A warning sign is intended to let everyone who enters know that there is a hazard nearby, and to be careful. While most stores put up a sign whenever there is a problem or hazard, some hazards may be so obvious that a sign may not be necessary. It’s up to the store’s employees or managers to determine the need. However, just putting up floor signs isn’t enough to completely absolve a store owner of negligence and/or liability.
The responsibility for the sign lies with the individuals in control of the property or business once they discover the hazard. Depending on the nature of the hazard, the next step is to correct it. For instance, the slick floor can be quickly remedied by an employee or two with a mop after the store erects a sign.
But for a hazard that requires more to correct, such as a leaking air conditioner, refrigeration, or freezer unit, the sign will also need to be accompanied by regular mopping and a call to a repair company. If the store simply put up the sign and never bothered to get the unit repaired, the sign becomes superfluous, and doesn’t actually serve a purpose.
Warning signs are effective only if they notify visitors that there is a danger they need to be aware of. If a sign is too small, isn’t readable, or isn’t in an obvious place that notifies visitors of the danger, it wouldn’t be sufficient to make them aware. If someone is injured as a result of inadequate signage, the owner may still be liable for any slip-and-fall injuries that result from the hazard, because the visitor was not sufficiently notified of the hazard in the area.
Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier—A New York Slip And Fall Accident Law Firm
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere in New York City, any time, especially in the winter months with ice, snow, and freezing rain.
After a slip and fall, you may need legal help while recovering from your injuries. Call us at (212) 777-9400 (or use our online contact form.) Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier is a family-owned personal injury law firm, with more than 26 years of experience helping New Yorkers recover from injuries. Our contingency fee arrangement means we don’t get paid until you are, whether we settle your case or take it to court.