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In Connecticut Self-Service Means You May Be Helping Yourself to a Lawsuit



You have seen them: areas of your local supermarket where you are invited to pour your own coffee, pick your own doughnut, or make your own salad. But what if you slip, fall, and injure yourself in one of these supermarket self-service areas? Are you more or less responsible for your injury than if you had slipped in the magazine section?

According to the Connecticut Supreme Court, you have got a lot better chance of proving that the store was negligent if you fall in the self-service food section. In a 2007 case, a plaintiff fell on a piece of lettuce near a store's self-service food bar. In this case, the Court found that the plaintiff did not have to prove that the store knew about the dangerous condition before the accident. The Court also found that when a store operates a self-service food area, it should foresee that customers will drop food on the floor and take measures to see that it is cleaned up.

In a 2010 case, the Court reviewed another supermarket slip and fall case. In this situation, the plaintiff fell in what he thought was fruit cocktail syrup. Judgment for the plaintiff, like in the case above? Nope. Here the fall was not in an area like a self-service food bar. Apparently, no one expects that customers will be opening cans of fruit cocktail and helping themselves in the store. Because the plaintiff could not prove that the store knew or should have known that syrup was on the floor before the accident, the Court found that the store was not responsible for his injuries.

In short, the actual location of where you fall in a store may now decide negligence cases in Connecticut. Slip on spilled coffee in front of a self-service coffee dispenser? You may have a strong case. Slip on spilled coffee in the cereal aisle? Then you have a more difficult case because you may have to prove that the store knew or should have known that the coffee was there and did nothing about it.

If you are injured by falling in a retail establishment, be sure to contact a competent attorney. As seen above, the law for slip and fall liability varies from state to state and from aisle to aisle.