Can You Sue a Gas Station for Slip and Fall Accidents?
Every day, millions of Americans fuel up their vehicles at gas stations. These days, gas stations are not just a place to pump fuel and go. They consist of more than that, such as drive-thru car washes, convenient stores, and electric charging stations.
Gas stations are essential in a vehicle-dependent country like the United States. With this power comes great responsibility. As such, property owners are responsible for ensuring their premises are free of safety hazards and other deficiencies that could ultimately result in injuries. Failing to address these issues could become a “lose-lose” situation for gas stations and customers.
Common Causes of Gas Station Injuries
If you think about it, people are vulnerable to several types of hazards at gas stations. Vehicles of all shapes and sizes pass through maze-like pumping stations, people of all ages are exposed to gasoline, and employees could be juggling several responsibilities at once. These are some of the various factors that could lead to an unfavorable event, such as getting injured.
With this in mind, we explore some common reasons for gas station injuries below:
- Spilled liquids at pumping stations, including oil, gasoline, diesel, windshield wiper fluid, and other fluids
- Poor lighting in the store and/or on the premise altogether
- Wet floors after mopping in gas station convenience stores
- Spilled liquids inside the store, such as soda, ice, water, coffee, and cooking oil
- Potholes, cracks, or uneven pavements
- Exposed power cords or other cords
- Spilled debris, litter, trash, and food from overflowing trash cans
- Condensation or ice
- Poorly ventilated pumping areas
- Defective nozzle triggers
- Faulty shutoff valves, causing leaking pump hoses and spray
- Poorly designed parking lots
Some of these factors may result in slip and fall incidents, vehicle collisions, fires, and assaults, causing injuries that we discuss further below.
Injuries You Could Suffer at Gas Stations
Considering the many hazards and risks present at gas stations, injuries are inevitable. Although injuries are not always caused by property owners’ nor gas station employees’ negligence, many injuries still occur because of these parties’ negligence. To put it into perspective, take a look at the following types of gas stations injuries:
- Gasoline and diesel burns
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Soft-tissue sprains, strains, bruises, and scrapes
- Back and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Head wounds
- Bone fractures
Four Elements of Negligence You Need to Prove
If you suffered an injury at a gas station, you may be entitled to compensation if you are able to prove that the accused party’s negligence caused your injuries. Your lawyer must prove the following 4 elements of negligence to best achieve a favorable outcome in your case:
- The existence of a legal duty owed to the plaintiff: The defendant owed a legal duty to you.
- The defendant failed to exercise their duty: The defendant breached their duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way.
- Causation: The defendant’s actions or inactions caused your injury.
- Damages: You were injured because of the defendant’s actions or inactions. Your injuries could be physical, mental, or emotional, therefore, the defendant may be required to compensate you for the damages you suffered.
What Damages Are Available in Slip and Fall Claims?
Slip and falls are among the most frequent causes of injuries at gas stations and convenience stores. If your attorney proves the 4 elements of negligence discussed above, you could get compensated for
- Medical bills
- Medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In a very limited number of cases, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant acted in a particularly egregious way. If the court finds that the defendant’s actions were intentional or extremely negligent, they will “punish” the defendant by requiring them to pay you punitive damages in the form of monetary compensation. Again, punitive damages are rarely awarded, even if the defendant’s actions seemed significantly harmful to you.
Key Things to Consider Before Filing Your Slip and Fall Claim
For your claim to be effective, you must evaluate whether or not a gas station owner or operator had notice of the issue, and for how long. If the owner or operator was not aware of the issue that caused your injury, you may not receive the outcome you had hoped for.
For background, notice means having knowledge that an issue exists, whether it be a spill, lack of wet floor signs, exposed power cord, and the like. Your attorney should evaluate the situation to see if the defendant was notified of the issue, how they were notified, and for how long. These elements are important to consider before filing a slip and fall claim.
For instance, let’ say you slipped on a puddle of gasoline at the pump station and fell. You go inside the convenience store to notify the employee, and they say, “I am so sorry that happened to you. We didn’t know about this and will clean it up right away.” As such, they handle the issue promptly. Since the employee responded to the defect right away and claimed they did not know about it prior, your case may be affected depending on how long the puddle of gasoline was on the premises.
On the other hand, if you slipped on the floor inside the convenience store after an employee had mopped it, you may have a claim if they failed to post a wet floor sign immediately after mopping. If the employee mopped the floors 20 minutes prior to the incident, your claim could potentially result in a higher settlement than it would if the employee mopped the floor 2 minutes ago. This is because the employee could argue that they were grabbing the wet floor sign from the storage room when you slipped and fell, which could make it challenging for you to prove negligence in this case.
Our personal injury attorneys proudly represent clients across Plano and Dallas in their personal injury matters. If you suffered an injury through no fault of your own, contact us at 888-4-ZEN-LAW to learn how we can help!