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Injured After Tripping On An Unsecured Rug In A Store - Proving Liability (Part A)

When someone walks into a store, whether it is a grocery store, a clothing store, or even an office supply store, the store has the duty to protect the customer from dangerous conditions which may result in injury.

One common dangerous condition at stores and public establishments are rugs or mats placed at the entrances of the stores.  Sometimes, the mats are there permanently as a welcome mat, and other times, they are only put down when it rains to prevent customers from slipping on the floor.  Either way, the mats should not cause customers to trip, fall and injure themselves.  If a customer trips and falls because of the unsafe mats, the owner of the store may be liable for the customer's injuries.

There are many ways the rug or mat can be unsafe, for example:

  • it is crumpled; or
  • it is not secured properly.

However, just because the mat is crumpled or not fastened to the floor does not mean the owner is liable.  Pennsylvania courts have provided that a fact analysis of each case has to be conducted in order to determine liability.

In Reardon v. Meehan, 424 Pa. 460 (1967), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that the defendant was liable for plaintiff's injuries as a result of tripping on a rug that had a curled edge.  The plaintiff was delivering a case of beer to the defendant when he tripped on an unfastened rug with the curled edge.  The Court said that the fact that the rug was unfastened does not constitute negligence per se, but ultimately found that the defendant was liable upon evaluation of the facts surrounding plaintiff's fall.

Plaintiff testified that his foot got caught under the rug.  Then after he fell, he rolled over to see what he fell on and saw that it was the curled up rug.  Plaintiff also established that because of the rug's fibrous nature, the edges would have curled up within 2 years of its date of purchase, which was 4 years before his fall.

Because of these facts, the plaintiff was able to establish the following:

  • there was a curl on the edge of the rug;
  • the curl on the edge of the rug caused him to fall; and
  • the curl on the edge existed for a long period of time prior to his fall which the defendant should have known about.

Under these circumstances, the court determined that the facts justified a finding of defendant's negligence.

Compare that to another Pennsylvania court case where the court found that the defendant was not liable for plaintiff's injuries from tripping over a rug.  Click here to continue to Part B of this article.

Philadelphia Trip & Fall Accident Lawyers

If you were injured in a trip and fall accident in PA or New Jersey and would like to talk to a lawyer about your legal rights, call the lawyers at White and Williams LLP.  Dan O'Brien, Esquire and his team will answer your questions and concerns. 877.944.8396

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