How Do You Know If A Business Acted Reasonably?
Simply stated, if you have suffered an injury in a restroom slip and fall (whether at the mall, rest stop, fast food restaurant or any other public restroom) then you may have a liability claim against the owner or operator of that premises for your damages. Just like a fall occurring at a grocery store, or while eating at a restaurant or having fast food, or in a hotel room, the insurance coverage maintained by the business may provide financial coverage for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
Are Slip and Fall Accidents Automatically Covered by the Business’s Insurance?
Under Florida law, it’s not automatic that the business will be held liable for your damages for a restroom slip and fall, no matter how seriously you have been hurt. The key here is whether or not the business was negligent in keeping those using the facilities safe from harm; did the business owner know or should it have known about a dangerous condition on its premises and it should have taken action to remedy it?
Accident victims, therefore, need to ask as one of their initial questions, did this business act reasonably in trying to protect against a restroom slip and fall accident? If not, then the business may be negligent under Florida premises liability law resulting in the insurance company being responsible to compensate the victim for his or her injuries.
13 Questions to Consider: Was the Business Reasonable in Trying to Prevent a Fall in its Restroom?
When you are evaluating whether or not to file a claim against the owner or operator of the restroom where you were hurt, it’s important to get an understanding of what they did — and did not do — to try and prevent a slip and fall from occurring on their premises.
Here are a series of questions that you can use to decide if your claim against that store, spa, hotel, shopping mall, or restaurant has any likelihood of being paid (You should also ask the insurance adjuster these questions to convince them that their insured was negligent). These questions are taken from various sources, not the least of which are some online risk manuals that insurance companies have published online to assist businesses in avoiding negligence claims.
1. Restroom Floor Material
Take a good look at the floors in the restroom as they were at the time of your accident. Try and remember the condition of the floor (was it dirty, wet, slippery, was the flooring broken or cracked), take pictures, get witness contact information and review any videos you took of the accident scene from your phone.
What are materials were used to make those restroom floors? Sometimes, interior designers may opt for beautiful flooring in a restroom, like marble, which does look elegant. However, marble flooring is inherently slippery. Even more so when wet.
Was the material on the restroom floor slippery? Or slip-resistant? Was there a floor mat? Was there a leak? Was it raining outside?
2. Restroom Attendant
Was there a restroom attendant? Many establishments employ someone to help and assist those using the restroom. They have duties that include being hospitable to visitors using the facility as well as maintaining the place and keeping it clean and neat.
If there was an attendant assigned to the restroom, were they there at the time of your accident? Why not? Are restroom attendants supposed to be in the restroom on a full-time basis, or only on weekends, the evenings, etc. If they aren’t assigned to be in the restroom at the time of the accident, why not?
Did the restroom attendant have the task of keeping a log about things at their work, logging things like the last time they wiped the counter-tops, replaced the liquid soap in the dispensers, etc. ? What does the log require them to include in their descriptions, is it detailed?
What chores were completed on the date of the accident, according to the restroom attendant’s logbook? What about the previous week?
3. Soap and Lotion Dispensers
Were there liquid soap dispensers or hand lotion dispensers in the restroom? Where are they located? Were they full or empty? Did they leak or ooze? Were these dispensers installed on the wall where if they dripped or leaked, the liquid would not fall on the floor? If there’s not a counter in the restroom, do the dispensers have some kind of catch or lip set up in case they drip or ooze liquid?
4. Restroom Counters
What materials are the restroom counters made of? If you had to grip the counter to try and stop a fall, would its surface help you hold your grip or is it smooth and slippery? How polished are the counters?
5. Paper Towel Dispensers
Most public restrooms offer some way for patrons to wash and dry their hands after using the facilities. At least, they are supposed to have this available — it’s a matter of health and safety!
Sometimes, they will have hot air dispensers that blast hot air to dry hands that are wet after being washed. Other restrooms may not have these hot air machines; instead, they will have the “old school” method of providing paper towels.
If paper towels were offered in the restroom where you fell, then where were they located? Was there a paper towel dispenser on the wall? Did it have paper towels in it?
Was it close enough to the sinks that anyone trying to get a towel to dry their hands would not drip water from their hands on the way to get the paper towel from the dispenser?
Was it working properly? Did any paper towels fall to the ground as someone grabbed a towel from the dispenser? Did these paper towels lay on the floor where people walked? Did you fall because of a paper towel laying there on the floor?
If there was no paper towel dispenser, then where were they stacked? On the counter? Did any of the paper towels make their way to the floor where someone could slip and fall on them?
6. Restroom Floor Condition
We’ve already considered what materials were used to make the restroom floor – marble, tile, etc. Now consider the condition of the floor at the time of the accident. Was it wet or dry? Was it slippery? Was it freshly waxed?
Were there any puddles of water on the restroom floor? How long had they been there? Was there a plumbing leak? Was there a problem with people dripping water from their hands because of a badly located towel dispenser — or because there were no towels provided?
What about a floor drain? Was there a drain or grate in the floor in case of a water leak? Was the restroom floor sloped so that water would naturally move to the drain or grate?
If there is water on the floor of the restroom, what instructions are given to employees on cleaning up that water? Who is responsible for doing this? How is this done? Is there a commercial mop that is used? Do they use a squeegee? Does the business have any signs warning of a dangerous wet floor? Are these used by the employees?
If you fell because of water standing on the restroom floor, were there any warnings provided to let you know that water was on the floor at that time?
7. Restroom Visibility and Lighting
Not all restrooms have the same lighting design. The bright lights of a fast food restroom may seem inappropriate in a five-star gourmet restaurant, for instance. However, no matter the ambiance that the restroom design is trying to provide, all businesses need to make sure that there is enough light so patrons can see where they are and where possible hazards might exist.
In the restroom where you had your slip and fall accident, where were the lights placed? Where they all working? Were they on at the time of the accident? Was there enough light so you could see the floor? Was there enough light so you could distinguish any soap, lotion, water, or debris that might be on the floor? Remember, floors that are different colors may need different levels of light. A dark gray or charcoal floor may look beautiful, but it will need more light in order for patrons to be able to see a water puddle in their footpath.
Were all the restroom fixtures operating? Were any of them loose? Were any of them grimy or slippery from not being cleaned recently, or properly? Did one of these fixtures contribute to your fall?
9. Toilets and Toilet Seats
Each toilet needs to be checked periodically by business staff to make sure that the toilet is functioning properly. Is it leaking and leaving a puddle in the stall? Are the stall doors working properly or do you have to wrangle the door open (which might cause you to lose your balance)? Was the stall door able to shut properly or did you have to hold it shut? Did the lock work? Did you have trouble getting the lock to work?
What about the toilet seat, was it loose? Were the bolts that hold the seat secure operating as they should? Did you fall because of a loose toilet seat?
10. Restroom Maintenance
Does the business have a standardized procedure for making sure that the restroom is safe for patrons? Where is this procedure kept — in a manual, or notebook? Is there any training provided for employees on this issue? Do they get training materials on how to inspect a restroom for safety and cleanliness?
What about when something bad happens, like a water leak? Does the business have a plan in place for how to deal with this situation? Do they have buckets? Do they have a way to block the door to the dangerous restroom until the leak is repaired? How is this done?
What if a toilet overflows, what is the procedure for dealing with this problem? Does the business block the stall or the entire restroom? Why?
11. Restroom Training
Are there any specific employees who have the job of fixing problems in the restroom? Who are they? What are they supposed to do if there is a water leak, an overflowing toilet, loose floor tiles, etc.? Is there a manual they can reference? Can you see it? What about tools, are they provided? Do they have easy access to plungers, mops, buckets, disinfectant spray, etc.? Who makes sure these things are in working order and in stock?
12. Restroom Emergency
What if there is a huge water leak or other danger in the restroom, what is the procedure for the business? Do they already have a plumber they have chosen to use? Where do they keep his contact information? Do the employees have this number? Who has the authority to call the plumber and hire him to come and fix the mess?
13. Work on the Restroom
Were there recent problems with the restroom where you fell? Were there repairs that had to be made because of leaks, etc.? Did repairs have to be done after an inspection by local authorities? Was new equipment installed recently? What was installed? Why? Did anyone check to make sure the new installation worked correctly? What are the names and addresses of the contractors who did this work?
Do You Have a Slip and Fall Claim Against a Business for a Restroom Accident?
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a slip and fall accident in a restroom here in South Florida, then you may want to investigate possible legal claims against the owner and operator of that public restroom with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer.
If the business failed to act reasonably to prevent that accident, it may be legally obligated to cover the damages that have resulted from that slip and fall accident, including pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages, and more.
A good piece of advice if you or a loved one has been injured in a restroom slip and fall, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.