Some law to think about: Store Entrances
At Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP we recognize the need for continued study and keeping up developments in the law. Over time, the law changes either through the passage of new laws by Parliament, Legislatures, local government or also by the interpretation of law by the Courts. Keeping up with these developments is critical to QTMG’s success in representing you. This series, Some Law to Think About, is written to highlight some of the important legal considerations that go into every personal injury case that we at QTMG handle on behalf of our clients. We hope that you find this interesting and feel that it is indeed some law to think about.
Every person in Ontario has entered all kinds of stores from the smallest convenience store to a large box store. The entrance way of these stores may be analogized to the bottom of a funnel. It is at the entrance of a store that every customer passes through. The number of people in this small area is concentrated and the use is heaviest. The heavier use increases wear and results in the outside elements being tracked in. Accordingly, the entrances give rise to areas of increased risk of injury.
The case to think about today involves the entrance way of a large box store. The injury victim entered the store followed by her husband. She was walking normally when she tripped and fell on the metal grate in the floor. The dispute in the case turns on whether the grate was in good condition and whether the grate caused the injury victim to trip and fall.
The case notes the importance of determining how the injury victim fell and speaks in part to the importance of determining causation. The case reminds us that just because a person is injured in a store, or the mere fact that they fell, that this is not enough to visit liability for the injuries on the store. It is entirely possible that a person may fall and hurt themselves without the store being liable for the injuries sustained.
The legal question, respecting causation, requires the victim to prove that the injuries would not have occurred but for the negligence of the store.
In this case there was a question of whether the grating in the floor was in any way defective. The grating itself was removed and was unavailable for inspection by the victim’s experts. The failure to preserve this crucial evidence on the part of the store caused the court to draw an adverse inference against the store (meaning that the failure to preserve the evidence is presumed to suggest that had the evidence been available it would have favoured the other party—in this case the victim).
It was clear in this case that many many people used this entrance and that none of those others fell and hurt themselves. The store asked the Court to infer from this fact that the floor grating must have been okay.
Ultimately, the Court finds that the victim did suffer an injury and that it was caused by the store’s negligence. Accordingly, the injury victim was compensated for the losses she suffered when she tripped over a metal grate in the entrance way of a local big box store.
If you are interested in reading further on the issues outlined herein you may wish to consider reading Goody v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, decided in 2009 by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
QTMG LLP, PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS, OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA
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