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What duty is owed a Virginia customer in a slip-and-fall case?

What happens to a Virginian if she enters onto another's property and injures herself? Specifically, what should a Virginian who enters onto a store's premises as a customer and is then involved in a slip-and-fall accident expect? These types of accidents, which raise the issue of premises liability and may bring about serious injuries, are all too common due to hazardous conditions and, therefore, it is important to understand what kind of duty a property owner owes a customer.

The duty owed an injured customer stems from how the customer is classified under Virginia law. A customer is an invitee, which, as the name suggests, denotes a person who is invited onto the premises of another, as a customer is.

First and foremost, it is the duty of the owner of the premises to exercise what is considered ordinary care to a person who comes as an invitee onto his or her premises. Second, the owner of the premises must present premises that are in a reasonably safe condition. The very invitation for a customer to enter the property typically suggests that the conditions are safe.

Third, the premises owner owes an invitee or customer a duty to remove foreign objects from its floors, either objects which the owner placed there, or which it knew, or should have known, that others had placed there. These objects must be removed within a reasonable time. Finally, the premises owner in Virginia must warn customers of unsafe conditions if those conditions were unknown to the invitee, but were either known, or should have been known, to the owner.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to dangerous property conditions or the behavior of a negligent property owner, it may be wise to seek the counsel of an attorney to discuss your options for potential legal recovery.

Source: uslaw.org, "State of Virginia Retail Compendium of Law," Susan Childers North, Jay K. Sinha, Naomh M. Stewart, accessed July 3, 2015

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