When individuals fall at public establishments, such as the parking lots of supermarkets or hotel lobbies, an incident or accident report is typically filled out by an employee of the public establishment.
For example, consider a situation where an individual goes to a supermarket to buy groceries, he pushes his cart through the parking lot, steps in a large pothole, and trips and falls. As a result of the fall, he twists and fractures his ankle. He can’t get up and an employee comes out to try to help him. While they wait for an ambulance to come, the employee talks to the injured customer and fills out an incident report.
When writing an incident report, the employee will typically ask the customer who tripped and fell about the accident:
Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, a public establishment, such as a supermarket, has the duty to keep the premises free of unreasonably dangerous conditions, such as tripping hazards, in order to protect its customers.
A pothole in a parking lot certainly qualifies as an unreasonably dangerous condition. Customers may fall from pushing their carts into a pothole simply by stepping on the edge of a pothole.
In order to prove that the supermarket is responsible, the injured customer would need to prove that the supermarket had notice of the dangerous condition. There are 2 types of notice: actual and constructive. For purposes of this article, only actual notice will be discussed. To learn more about constructive notice, click here: Proving Notice in a Pennsylvania Slip-Trip-Fall Accident Case
Incident reports are very important when trying to establish actual notice. If there were prior incident reports where customers tripped and fell in the same pothole, the supermarket had actual notice of the dangerous tripping hazard and did nothing to fix it. Rather than fixing the pothole after the 1st incident, it ignored the hazard despite knowing that another customer could trip and fall in the pothole. Because the grocery store knew about customers falling in the pothole from previous incident reports, it had actual notice. If the grocery store could not fix the pothole immediately, it should have put up cones surrounding the pothole to warn customers.
If you or a loved one tripped and fell due to a dangerous tripping hazard at a grocery store, parking lot, hotel, etc., feel free to contact the personal injury lawyers at White and Williams. Dan O’Brien and his team have helped numerous trip and fall accident victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call for a FREE CONSULTATION @ 877.944.8396