Slip and Fall Lawsuits in Virginia

With all the snow and ice in the Richmond area in the last couple weeks, there have probably been plenty of dangerous slips and hazardous falls. Richmond residents should be aware that Sec. 25-23 of the Code of The City of Richmond requires that snow must be removed within six (6) hours after the snow ceases to fall, or by 11:00 a.m. the next day if the snow ends during the night.  The city warns that if someone is injured, the property owner may be liable.

To successfully recover damages based upon a slip and fall injury claim in Virginia, the Plaintiff must show that the property owner owed her a duty of care. Other than snow and ice slip and falls, the most common slip and fall cases involve the duty that a storeowner owes his customers.

Under Virginia law, shoppers in a store are considered invitees.  They have been “invited” onto the premises by the storeowner by advertisements or marketing in the hopes that the storeowner can derive an economic benefit from their visit.  The storeowner must take reasonable care to ensure that the premises are safe for customers.  The storeowner must warn customers of any known dangerous condition and must remove slippery foreign objects within a reasonable amount of time.

Often the key element in a slip and fall case is the length of time the slippery substance or dangerous object was on the floor. In the authoritative Virginia case Colonial Stores v. Pulley, Justice Carrico wrote that, “it is just as logical to assume that it was placed upon the floor an instant before the plaintiff struck it as it is to infer that it had been there long enough that the defendant should, in the exercise of reasonable care, have known about it.”  Read the entire opinion from the Supreme Court of Virginia here.

To succeed with his claim the Plaintiff must prove that either the storeowner created the dangerous condition on the floor, or that the storeowner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition and failed to remedy it.

A further complication in Virginia is the doctrine of “contributory negligence.”  If the Plaintiff is responsible in any way for his own injury, recovery from another contributing party may be barred.  This doctrine is only embraced by four states, but Virginia is one of them.

If you have a question about a personal injury sustained by yourself or a loved one please contact the attorneys at Winslow & McCurry at (804)423-1382.