When you visit a movie theater, you're typically hoping for a few hours to enjoy a great flick and maybe indulge in some popcorn. However, movie theaters are popular places for slip and fall accidents. If you've been injured in this type of accident, there are some important steps to take to protect your right to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Types of Injuries in Movie Theater Accidents
A movie theater slip and fall accident can result in several different types of injuries, ranging from minor to permanently disabling. For example:
- Sprains and strains
- Cuts and scrapes
- Broken bones
- Head or neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Determining Liability for Your Injuries
Movie theaters can be held financially responsible for your injuries if they failed to take reasonable precautions to provide a safe environment for their patrons. Examples of common hazards that can cause slip and fall accidents include:
- Dangerous Stairs. The darkened environment of a movie theater makes stairs a prime spot for slip and fall accidents. Stairs in a movie theater should have handrails, proper illumination, and no ripped or damaged carpeting to reduce the risk of tripping. If the stairs are hazardous, a movie theater can be held liable for injuries.
- Slippery Floors. Floors that have been recently waxed, are wet from rain brought in on patron shoes, or are slippery because of a spilled drink represent a safety hazard. Failing to remove hazards in a timely fashion and/or provide adequate warning could make a theater negligent
- Aggressive Patrons. Accidents caused by another moviegoer pushing or shoving may be the responsibility of the movie theater if it failed to provide adequate supervision during the film or to remove patrons who were known to be causing problems. (Depending on the circumstances, the patron himself may also be liable for your injuries.)
How Comparative Negligence Affects Liability
Comparative negligence refers to a victim's role in causing his own injuries. Examples of comparative negligence in a movie theater slip and fall case might include:
- You failed to use the handrail on the stairs when locating your seat.
- You were texting while walking and didn't see the posted wet floor sign.
- You were running, jumping, or otherwise engaging in horseplay with friends.
- You jumped over a barrier to enter a private area of the theater reserved for employees.
If comparative negligence played a factor in your case, your ability to recover damages will be proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. For example, if you were found to be 20% responsible for your injuries, you'd only be able to recover 80% of what you would originally have received.
Comparative negligence only applies to children in terms of developmentally appropriate expectations. The younger a child is, the less responsibility he is expected to have in terms of ensuring personal safety.
Proving Your Case
To successfully establish your claim for damages, you must be able to prove the following four factors:
- Duty. The movie theater is required to provide a reasonably safe environment for patrons.
- Breach of Duty. The movie theater failed to live up to its responsibility by doing or not doing something that created a safety hazard.
- Causation. The breach of duty caused your accident.
- Damages. The accident resulted in injury-related expenses.
Duty is easily established by the nature of the theater's business. Any public establishment has a duty to its guests. Breach of duty may be proven with witness testimony, surveillance video, or photos of the accident scene. Causation and damages can be established using your medical records and documentation of missed time from work or other related expenses.
Hiring an experienced slip and fall attorney to represent your interests is the best way to protect your right to compensation in this type of personal injury case. Your attorney can determine the worth of your case, locate evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation with the legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault.