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Slip and Fall Liability: Does a Posted Caution Sign Help Businesses?

September 10, 2020
Sign showing warning of caution wet floor

You’ve seen the yellow warning tents in businesses that let you know a floor is wet, a spill has occurred – or anything else. While it’s nice to have the heads up, the fact of these warning signs – or any kind of warning sign – however, does not mean the business is necessarily off the hook for any accidents and injuries that ensue. It’s more legally complicated than that. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident at a business, seek the professional legal counsel of an experienced NYC personal injury attorney today.

Reasonable Duty of Care

The property owner or manager at the business where you were injured owes you a reasonable duty of care, and there is no pat answer for what this reasonable duty amounts to in any given situation. Sometimes, posting a warning is the best that can be done in the circumstances, and it – thus – qualifies as a reasonable duty of care. Sometimes, however, it does not.

The Warning Sign’s Job

Warning signs have a job to do – warn you about potential danger – and sometimes, they’re effective, and sometimes, they’re less so. For example, if a business owner has a large, obvious warning sign that greets every customer upon entry and that lets them know that the floors have been made slippery by tracked in weather (that the store is trying to keep cleared but that they simply can’t keep up with) – that warning sign is likely doing it’s job and would likely mitigate the business’s liability if a slip and fall ensued. In the exact same situation with the exact same sign, however, the story would be very different in the following situations:

  • The warning sign was in a corner.
  • The warning sign was pushed to the back of the store.
  • The warning sign was otherwise obscured.

To optimize a warning sign’s effectiveness, it must be used to its best advantage. Similarly, a hastily scribbled sign or a sign in a language that the majority of guests don’t speak – even if prominently displayed – is unlikely to hit its mark as an effective warning sign.

Is the Warning Sign Enough?

Let’s take a closer look at our wet floors. Yes, the business posted clear warning signs that grabbed our attention, but is that enough? The business owner knows there’s a safety issue, and warning customers about it is a good first step, but cleaning up the danger in the first place is the safest approach. If the business is on top of the problem and is regularly cleaning the tracked-in weather but – because the issue is ongoing – simply can’t keep up, the combination of the warning sign and the owner’s efforts would likely mitigate the owner’s liability. If, on the other hand, the owner simply slaps down a warning sign and calls it good, he or she would very likely retain considerable liability for any ensuing slip and fall accidents.

Allow Our Experienced NYC Personal Injury Attorneys to Help

The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman in New York City are committed to building your strongest slip and fall case in the aggressive pursuit of the compensation to which you are entitled. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 212-285-3300 today.


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