What Happens if You Slip, Trip, or Fall in a Store?

March 22, 2024
Jack Fine

If you’ve been injured from a slip, trip, or fall due to a dangerous condition while you were in a store in Florida, you may be able to file a claim for compensation for your injury. To receive compensation for your slip-and-fall injuries, you’ll need to show that the owner of the store was negligent.

Florida law requires that a store owner has a duty to maintain premises and reduce the risk of injury to the store’s visitors. When a store is not maintained with customers’ safety in mind, the owner can be held accountable for any injury a person suffers while in the store.

What to Do If You Slipped and Fell in a Store?

Experiencing a slip, trip, or fall in a store can be both alarming and potentially harmful. Slips, trips, and falls can happen in various places, including: 

  • Hotels
  • Auto Supply Stores
  • Grocery Stores
  • Department Stores
  • Restaurants

Florida law 768.0755, or the transitory foreign substance law, was enforced after a Florida Supreme Court decision in the case of Owens v. Publix Supermarkets. It defines a transitory foreign substance as any liquid or solid substance, item, or object that is out of place. 

Under this law, if a person suffers a slip and fall due to such a substance, they must prove that the business had knowledge of the condition and failed to address it. If you find yourself in a slip and fall accident, it’s important to know the right steps to take not only for your safety but also for any potential legal considerations. 

1. Report the Accident

The first and most important action is to report the accident. Locate the store manager or an employee and inform them about your fall, detailing where and how it happened. This step officially documents the incident in the store’s records.

It’s possible the store has specific policies for handling slip-and-fall incidents, which might include filling out an incident report form. If the store lacks a formal procedure, it’s a good idea to take the initiative. Obtain the contact information of the store manager, such as an email or mailing address. 

Following your visit, send a detailed letter or email describing the accident. This should include where in the store the fall occurred, what caused it (like a wet floor or uneven surface), the exact date and time of the incident, and a description of your injuries. 

2. Ask for an Accident Report

After notifying the store manager or an employee, request a formal accident report. This document officially records the details of the incident from the store’s perspective. It may include information about the conditions leading to your fall, any immediate actions taken by the store staff, and witness statements if applicable.

If the store offers to complete an accident report, review it carefully before signing. Ensure that all the details are accurately recorded. If anything seems amiss or incomplete, don’t hesitate to ask for corrections. Remember, this document can be a vital piece of evidence if you decide to seek compensation for your injuries.

In cases where a store doesn’t have a formal accident report process, ask the manager to provide a written acknowledgment of your report. This acknowledgment should ideally include the date of the incident and a brief description. 

3. Gather Witness Testimonies and Take Photographs

It’s essential to collect as much evidence as possible to support your case after a fall. Start by taking photographs of the location where you fell. If you’re unable to take pictures yourself due to your injuries, ask someone nearby for help.

Focus on capturing images of the exact spot where the incident occurred and any hazards that contributed to your fall. This might include wet floors, uneven surfaces, spills, torn carpeting, or any other potential dangers. Make sure you take these photos from various angles and distances to comprehensively document the scene.

While taking photos of the accident scene, consider placing a ruler, yardstick, or tape measure in the photographs. This additional step allows you to accurately document changes in floor levels or the size of hazards, providing clear, measurable evidence of the conditions that led to your fall. 

If possible, capture clear images of any bruises, cuts, or other visible injuries you sustained. Photographs of damaged clothing and shoes can also be significant, as they provide further evidence of the incident and its impact.

If anyone saw you fall, ask for their names and contact information. Witnesses can provide independent accounts of the accident, which can be invaluable in substantiating your claim. Their statements might confirm details about the hazardous condition that caused your fall and how the store staff responded to the incident.

4. Save Your Clothing

The clothing and shoes you were wearing at the time of the fall can serve as evidence in your claim. Therefore, it’s important to preserve these items exactly as they were during the incident. Do not wash or alter them in any way.

This might seem like a small detail, but your clothing can provide tangible proof of the accident. For instance, stains or tears on your clothing can help demonstrate the nature of the fall and the surface on which you landed. Similarly, the condition of your shoes might be used to assess whether footwear contributed to the accident or to show damage resulting from the fall.

Store these items in a safe place and make a note of any relevant details, such as the date and time you wore them. This ensures that if your claim progresses to a legal setting, you have physical evidence to support your account of the events. 

5. Seek Medical Attention

Even if your injuries seem minor at first after a slip and fall accident, it’s important to get medical attention. Injuries from falls can sometimes be more serious than they initially appear. Seeing a physician ensures that your injuries are properly treated and documented.

Medical records can include doctor’s notes, x-ray results, treatment plans, and any other medical documentation related to your fall. They are essential pieces of evidence if you decide to seek compensation for your injuries.

6. Document Your Memories of the Accident

As soon as you are able, write down everything you remember about the accident. This should include the events leading up to the fall, the fall itself, and the immediate aftermath. Be as detailed and accurate as possible, noting the time, location, conditions that contributed to the fall, and any other relevant details.

Over time, memories can fade or become less precise, so having a written record ensures that your recollection of the event remains clear and consistent. Your detailed description will also be a valuable resource for your personal injury attorney, helping them understand the circumstances of your case and guiding their approach to handling your lawsuit.

7. Do Not Share Statements Before Contacting an Attorney

After a fall, you may be approached by store employees, insurance representatives, or even the media for a statement about the incident. Before providing any statements, especially written or recorded ones, it’s advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney.

An attorney experienced in slip-and-fall cases can offer guidance on how to communicate about the incident in a way that protects your legal interests. They can advise you on what information should and shouldn’t be shared and how to handle inquiries from the store’s insurance company or legal team.

What if You Slip and Fall Outside of the Store?

Slip and fall accidents can occur not just inside a store, but also in surrounding areas such as parking lots. If you fall in a store’s parking lot, determining liability can be complex. 

Often, the store may not be directly responsible for the maintenance and safety of the parking area. Instead, a third party, like a property management company or a separate maintenance service, could be in charge. This distinction is crucial because it affects who may be held liable for your injuries.

In the event of a slip and fall in a parking lot, follow similar steps as you would inside a store: document the incident, gather evidence (like photographs of the hazard that caused your fall), and seek medical attention. Additionally, try to identify who is responsible for maintaining the parking lot. This information can typically be obtained from the store manager or by looking for signage in the parking lot that indicates ownership or management details.

Can You Sue if You Slip and Fall in a Store?

Florida follows the “modified” comparative fault rule. Under this doctrine, if you slip and fall in a store, you have the right to sue for damages. However, the key factor is the distribution of fault between you and the defendant (in this case, the store). The court will examine the circumstances of the accident and assign a percentage of fault to each party involved.

You can recover damages even if you are partly responsible for your injuries. For example, if the court finds you were 30% at fault for not paying attention to warning signs, but the store was 70% at fault for leaving a hazard unaddressed, you can still seek compensation. In Florida, you cannot recover damages if you are found to be more than 50% at fault than the defendant. 

Store Liability vs Private Property Liability

Store liability refers to the responsibility of a business, such as a retail store, to ensure a safe environment for its customers. Stores are legally obligated to maintain their premises in a way that minimizes the risk of accidents, like slips and falls. This includes regularly inspecting the property, promptly addressing hazards (like spills or loose flooring), and providing adequate warning about potential dangers.

If you slip and fall in a store due to negligence on their part—such as failing to clean up a spill or repair a hazardous walking surface—the store can be held liable for your injuries. In these cases, the store’s insurance is typically responsible for covering your medical expenses and other related damages.

Private property liability, on the other hand, applies to non-commercial properties, like someone’s home or private land. The owner of the private property has a duty to ensure that their property is reasonably safe for visitors. However, the extent of this duty can vary depending on the visitor’s status (such as invitee, licensee, or trespasser).

If you are injured on someone’s private property due to the owner’s negligence—such as not fixing a broken step or not clearing ice from a walkway—the property owner may be held liable. Claims for slip and fall injuries on private property are usually filed against the homeowner’s insurance.

Contact an Experienced Premises Liability Attorney Now

At Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., our slip and fall attorney is dedicated to helping injured people throughout Florida fight for the fair and full compensation they deserve. We have more than a century of combined legal experience helping accident victims in Gainesville, Alachua County, and throughout the Sunshine State.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a serious fall accident at a store, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling (352) 275-5974. One of our skilled premises liability attorneys will review the details of your case and discuss with you all your legal options.


CS/CS/HB 837— Civil Remedies | The Florida Senate

768.0755  Premises liability for transitory foreign substances in a business establishment | The Florida Legislature 

Owens v. Publix Supermarkets Inc (2001) | FindLaw