A person on a motorcycle pulls into a 7-Eleven parking lot. The parking lot has a few spots of a greasy, slippery substance. The store owner tries to soak up the grime by covering it with some type of sand-like product.
The motorcycle rider parks his bike. He doesn't realize his front wheel is on top of a slippery spot. When he dismounts, the bike's front wheel slips out from under him. The bike topples on top of the rider, injuring the rider's knee bad enough to require surgery.
Does the motorcycle rider have a slip-and-fall case against 7-Eleven?
1. The defendant (7-Eleven property owner) had knowledge of the dangerous condition. He should have removed or repaired the dangerous condition but failed to do so. In this case, the property owner knew about the slick spots. He tried to fix them but instead, created another dangerous condition.
2. The defendant knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known about the dangerous condition. Because the property owner's business includes a busy parking lot, he should have known that slick pavement is a common condition due to oil leaking from vehicles. Did he have a procedure in place for regularly checking for these kinds of hazards and fixing them? Did he have a record his employees followed this procedure?
3. The defendant knew about the dangerous condition for a long enough time to either warn of or repair the dangerous condition. Here, the 7-Eleven employee knew about the condition for long enough time to try to fix it. The employee could have also set out cones or signage to alert customers of the slick spot until he could adequately fix the spot.
Other Points to Consider
In a slip-and-fall and other premises liability suits, the plaintiff basically has to prove the defendant failed to act as a "reasonable" person would under the circumstances. In the case of 7-Eleven, the employee tried to un-slick the spot, which is reasonable, but he didn't do a good job.
Considering the risk of injury a slick parking lot can cause, as well as the number of people that come in and out of the 7-Eleven, he should have made sure the slick spots were fixed.
The Defendant's Argument
In premises liability cases, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff is partly responsible for the accident. For example, if the motorcycle rider was talking on a cell phone while parking and dismounting the bike, it's possible he or she could have been found partly at fault. If the employee had placed warning signs all around the spot, but the motorcycle rider ignored them, that could trigger comparative fault.
Premises liability claims involve a lot of variables. It takes an experienced personal injury lawyer to evaluate the circumstances and determine whether a claim will succeed. If you've recently slipped or tripped on public property due to a dangerous condition, call our office for a free consultation.