Home and business owners have a responsibility to keep their visitors safe by maintaining their property and providing sufficient warnings of any present dangers. For example, a restaurant owner may post a “Wet Floor” sign after mopping to want customers that the floor could be slippery. If a person is injured in a slip and fall accident and a sign was posted, is the property owner totally excused from liability?
When is a Sign Required?
Posting a warning sign is generally required in situations of hazards that are not otherwise visible. A wet floor is a good example of this because it is not always easy to tell that a floor is wet and slippery just by looking at it. Therefore, posting a sign is necessary because guests cannot easily see that there is an injury hazard. By posting a sign and warning their guests of the slippery floor, the property owner warns their guests of the danger. In most cases, this meets their duty to maintain a safe environment.
Examples of Insufficient Warning Signs
The mere presence of a sign is not enough to excuse a property owner from liability in the event of a slip and fall accident. The sign must be visible enough and clear enough to be able to warn a person of a hazard, and potentially able to prevent slip and fall accidents.
A sign may be considered as insufficient if it is:
- Covered by another object or obscured in any way
- Not lit in a dark area
- Too small
- Illegible or not easy to read
Foreseeability and an Injury Victim’s Liability
Posting a sign could meet the legal requirement of “foreseeability,” meaning a danger was obvious to guests of the property owner. In these cases, liability may fall on the injured person.
For example, if there is a large, bright, highly visible sign that states that the floor is wet, yet a person still slips on the wet floor, the property owner may not be liable for damages. The property owner did their part by posting the sign and warning their guests of danger, so the victim’s injuries are essentially their own fault.
Even if a sign is posted and a hazard could be considered as foreseeable because of it, it’s possible that the sign still does not excuse the property owner from liability. An important component of premises liability cases is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain a safe property. In some cases, a home or business may be so dangerous to visitors that the presence of a sign is irrelevant.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Bryan Caulfield to discuss the details of your case. We can advise you on liability for your injuries and how we can help you recover compensation.
To schedule a free consultation with Attorney Bryan Caulfield, complete our contact form or call (727) 308-6060.