We recently received this question regarding a slip and fall accident at work.
Question: I drive a delivery truck. I regularly deliver products to a large chain restaurant at a loading dock in the rear of the building. I slipped off the loading dock because it was greasy from a prior delivery. I was seriously injured and cannot return to work. Do I have a case?
Answer: Probably, yes. When you go the restaurant to deliver goods for the restaurant, you hold the status of a "business invitee." Under Pennsylvania slip and fall accident injury law, a business, such as the restaurant, owes a duty to its business invitees to protect them from unreasonably dangerous conditions on the premises. If business invitees are injured due to unreasonably dangerous conditions on the premises, the business may be liable for the business invitees' injuries and damages.
In order for the restaurant to be liable, there must be evidence that it had prior notice of the greasy loading dock. It either had to have actual notice or constructive notice, i.e., they should have known about the unsafe condition. Typically, constructive notice can be established with evidence that the responsible party needed to periodically inspect the premises for unsafe conditions, but failed to do so.
For example, the restaurant has a policy that the loading dock is to be inspected for conditions like spills after each and every delivery. The restaurant’s maintenance logs show that it failed to inspect the loading dock just prior to your delivery. This is constructive notice, i.e., the restaurant should have known about the problem. Had it done what it was supposed to do, a restaurant employee would have seen the grease and cleaned it up prior to your delivery. Therefore, your accident would not have occurred.
In your situation, the restaurant therefore had an obligation to inspect the area where you were expected to be for any unsafe conditions. If there were unsafe conditions, the restaurant had to either correct the unsafe condition or to warn you about it, i.e., clean up the grease on the loading dock or block off the greasy area to prevent slip and fall accidents.
In addition to the restaurant, the person who made the prior delivery and created the greasy condition may have been negligent and therefore, liable as well. However, proper investigation is needed to gather all the facts to determine all liable parties.
While we certainly would need more facts in order to make a definitive determination, the factual scenario you lay out sounds to us like you may well have a viable case. It is also important to note that because your slip and fall accident happened while you were working, you are also eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.
Feel free to contact us to discuss your slip and fall accident and explore your legal options. We offer FREE consultations. 877.944.8396