A “Slippery When Wet” sign is a sign that business owners or employees must put down to warn people that they can slip and fall on the floor when it is wet. A common slippery when wet sign is a plastic yellow one that is shaped like a tent and has an icon of man falling with red lettering warning people who pass by of the potential danger.
Whenever a floor is wet, the business must post a sign. If there is no sign, the business is more likely to be liable if injury occurs. The signs are usually posted right on top of the slippery area, to discourage patrons or visitors from walking on or into that area.
What Kind of Claim is a “Slip and Fall”?
A slip and fall claim is filed under a charge of negligence. Negligence can occur when a business has prior knowledge of dangerous conditions, but doesn’t fix the condition that can harm its patrons and customers. There are certain elements that must be present in order to fulfill a negligence charge:
- Duty of Care: Here, the business owner generally has a duty to ensure that the floors in their establishment are safe, and to warn when they are wet or slippery
- Defendant Breached the Duty: If the business owner fails to provide proper warnings regarding wet or slippery floors, they might face liability if a patron or visitor falls
- The Defendant’s Breach Resulted in Negligence: The business owner’s breach or failure must be the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. That is, the plaintiff would not have fallen if there was a sign or warning in place.
- The plaintiff was Injured By the Defendant’s Negligence: The injuries must be real and measurable; imagined injuries or injuries that cannot be proven to exist do not qualify for a damages award. The monetary cost of the injuries will be measured by the court using medical bills and other items of evidence
Like other types of injury claims, the injured party may be eligible for a damages award if they are successful on their claim. The damages may cover losses like hospital and medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other costs.
Also, if the person has lost some ability to generate income in the future due to their fall injury, they may also receive compensation for that as well.
Can I File a Claim if There Was a Slippery When Wet Sign?
A Slippery When Wet sign must be posted in a highly visible area close to the place where the wet area occurred. If the sign is not close enough to the wet area, or if the sign doesn’t properly alert a patron to the wet area, it may be possible to win a slip and fall case even if a sign was posted.
Also, if the writing or images on the sign are faded or difficult to read, that could go against the business establishment as well.
When is the Business Not at Fault?
There are certain instances in which a business is not responsible for a slip and fall case even if there is no sign posted. It is key to keep in mind the length of time between when the floor was wet and when the sign was posted. If the floor became wet at 5 p.m., and the patron fell at 5:01 p.m., then there was not enough time for the business to reasonably be expected to post a sign.
Another possible defense is where the injured person has assumed the risk of their own injury. This means that the person knew about the wet or slippery conditions, and understood that there was a danger of falling involved, yet still continued to walk in that area.
An example of this where there is a wet floor, and no sign posted yet. If an employee tells the person, “Be careful, the floor is wet, do not walk there please”, and the person acknowledges this yet still walks there, it could negatively affect their ability to collect damages.
Prior knowledge is also an important element in a slip and fall case. The business must have the knowledge of the conditions and choose not to act on it in order to be held responsible for negligence. If both sides are in agreement, then it is possible to reach a slip and fall settlement rather than to go to court over the issue.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Slippery When Wet Legal Issue?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer right away. Your lawyer can help you figure out your best case, represent you in settlement negotiations, and fight on your behalf in court. If you have any specific needs or questions, your attorney can address those as well.