Popcorn and Personal Injury: Movie Theatre Slip and Fall Accidents
A trip to the movies can be an exciting event. You order your tickets and pick middle seats. You buy your bucket of popcorn and grab a few more snacks while you're at it. You make your way through the aisles, settle into the chair, and wait as the lights dim. Then you're whisked away on a fun-filled, action-packed, or comedic journey with some of your favourite actors.
However, not all trips to the theatre prove pleasant. Dim lighting and slippery floors can leave you tumbling down the stairs or tripping into the seats. If you fall in a theatre, can you sue for compensation?
Spilled Soda and Popcorn Butter
Movie theatres are known for spilled snacks and food. Children tip their sodas onto the floor, while messy teens forget to pick up an overturned popcorn bucket dripping with butter. These sticky and slippery substances can make any floor unsafe to walk on.
According to the Occupiers Liability Act, anyone who has responsibility for, and control over, the conditions of a building, must take care that a person who enters the premises will stay reasonably safe.
Consequently, theatre owners must do all they can to ensure you have a safe experience. This includes having employees mop up messes and spills as quickly as possible to minimize risks of slip and fall injuries.
Unfortunately, some messes and accidents occur too quickly for the average employee to clean, and when the movie begins, the lighting can make it difficult for employees to spot incidents when they occur. If you slip and fall as a result, the court will have to decide whether the employees made reasonable efforts to clean the messes under the circumstances.
Poorly Lit Stairs and Ragged Carpet
Theatres with stadium-style seating often have rows of stairs on either side of the theatre. If you arrive before the movie starts, the normal lighting can guide you along your way. However, if you arrive in time for the trailers or just after the movie begins, the lights will appear much dimmer. Without adequate lighting, you may struggle to reach your seat safely.
As with spilled substances, the movie theatre is also responsible for keeping stairs and carpeting safe. If the theatre owner knew about potentially dangerous conditions and failed to take appropriate action, he or she will have liability for any injuries that occur as a result.
Poor conditions include:
- Broken or missing handrail
- Debris (trash, dirt, gum, etc.) present on stairs
- Items caught in carpet material that catch on footwear
- One or more rounded and worn steps
- Poor lighting
- Rugs and mats with curled edges or holes
- Torn, worn, or bulging carpet
If these conditions lead to an accident, you could hold the theatre liable and sue for compensation of medical injuries.
Slip and fall injuries are often difficult to manage because you must first prove that the theatre caused the accident.
For example, an employee recently mopped up some spilled soda, forgot to place a "wet floor" sign in the area, and you slipped as a result. The theatre would have total liability for the injuries.
However, in another possible scenario, the employee adequately marked the area and warned theatre guests to walk around the puddle. He or she took great care to make the area as safe as possible, but you still slipped along the edges. You would be partially at fault for the injury. In this scenario, you could potentially receive compensation for your injuries, but the total amount would be smaller.
But let's say the employee adequately marked the area, and you didn't pay attention. In this scenario, the theatre owner might successfully argue that the puddle was in "plain view." Under this argument, any person who enters another property has a duty to watch where he or she moves. If you do not exercise care to notice an obvious problem, you assumed the risk. This could reduce your total compensation or even bar you completely from receiving money for damages.
In yet another possible scenario, another patron drops a drink that you slip on just moments after the incident. Under reasonable circumstances, the staff wouldn't have had time to clean up the mess or prevent the problem. For this case, the other patron would be at fault, not the theatre owner. You could potentially sue the other patron, assuming you had adequate evidence that the other patron caused the problem.
Not Sure If You Have a Case?
Movie theatre slip and fall accidents can be confusing without professional advice. A personal injury lawyer can help you assemble the details and facts you need to present a solid case to the court. With the right lawyer at your side, you could receive full compensation for your movie theatre injuries.
Even if you're not sure about your case, you can ask a lawyer at Yearwood – Dyson* Lawyers in the Surrey or Vancouver area to assist you. He or she can help you determine liability for the accident, and many lawyers will even review your case for free. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to see if you have a case.