Recent studies have shown that the risk of injuries from slips, trips, and falls in public spaces increases during times of increased visitor numbers at malls, such as back-to-school or holiday shopping. Approximately 30% of people who are injured in a slip and fall at a department store or mall report ongoing injuries, including hand, wrist, and hip fractures, broken bones, slipped discs, spinal cord injuries, and even head injuries.
Shopping centers have a duty to keep their premises reasonably free of hazards. Failure to comply with this duty may cause them to be held liable for any injuries caused by slips and falls. This includes not just interior spaces, but exterior walkways, gardens, and parking lots, for which precautions for adverse weather (such as storms) must also be in place.
As with most slip and fall accidents that occur on public or private property, injuries sustained in shopping malls fall under premises liability laws. This means that if a property owner’s negligence to keep their spaces free of hazards causes injury to a customer, that property owner will face legal liability for the damages, especially when the causes of the damages include the following:
- Large crowds of shoppers or visitors
- Overtraffic parking lots
- Slippery pavement or ramps on sidewalks and parking lots
- Floors with hard and highly polished surfaces
- Spilled food and liquids in walkable spaces
It is common for shopping centers to be owned by a large company, which without obtaining economic benefits by leasing its spaces to smaller businesses (such as restaurants, bars, shops, etc.), is generated by a legal liability structure that means that individual stores or businesses will be responsible for keeping their spaces safe, while security in public areas such as parking lots and hallways, elevators, escalators, and public restrooms is often the responsibility of the mall management.
Regarding premises liability, it is important to remember that mall managers become responsible for your safety from the moment you enter a parking lot to the moment you exit the parking lot.