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Virginia property owners owe their customers and clients a duty to keep their premises safe. A slip-and-fall shopping mall accident is a specific type of premises liability accident. Common causes of slip-and-fall accidents include a wet floor, clutter left on the floor, broken stairs, unsecured floorboards, and poor lighting.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident at a shopping mall, you may be able to file a lawsuit for failure to keep the premises safe. But who is responsible for such an accident?

Who you sue in these types of situations depends on where the accident occurred: in the common areas of the shopping mall or in a store. Contact the seasoned attorneys at River Run Law. We can help you collect evidence against the responsible party.

Who Is Liable in a Shopping Mall Slip-and-Fall Accident?

Liability depends on the facts of the case. Usually, who to sue depends on where the slip-and-fall shopping mall accident occurs.

Common Areas of the Shopping Mall

The common areas of the shopping mall refer to any area that is not owned or rented by a store or individual business. Rather, this area is open to everyone. The owner of the shopping mall will usually be liable for any slip-and-fall accidents that happen in the mall’s common areas.


If the accident happens in a store, then the store will be responsible for any accidents. The notion is that the store renting the space in the mall has control over that area. Therefore, they bear the responsibility to keep the premises safe for customers.

Maintenance Issues

Note that maintenance companies may also be responsible for a slip-and-fall accident. If they fail to find or fix a problem and a reasonable maintenance professional taking ordinary care would have detected it, they may be liable.

Depending on where the maintenance issue is, the shopping mall or the store may also be liable. Examples of maintenance issues include a broken escalator or elevator.

Who Is Protected from Slip-and-Fall Accidents?

Premises owners have different duties depending on the type of visitor: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.


Examples include shoppers at clothing stores and clients at law firms. Basically, you are an invitee if a business opens its doors to the public and invites them in to conduct business. Virginia law establishes the duty of premises owners to invitees as the following:

  • Keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition,
  • Remove objects that they knew or should have known about from floors within a reasonable time, and
  • Warn customers of any unsafe conditions that they knew or should have known about.

This is deemed to be the highest level of care. Mall shoppers are considered invitees.


Examples of licensees include invited social guests and salespersons who come to your door. Licensees include anyone who has an express or implied invitation to enter private property—when there is no business advantage to the property owner. Generally, the only duty is to warn licensees of known dangers on the premises.


Trespassers do not have permission to be on the premises. A Virginia property owner does not owe a duty of care to trespassers. If trespassers are injured, they cannot recover for any injuries they sustained while illegally on your property. 

What Should You Do After a Slip-and-Fall Accident?

Take the following steps after a slip-and-fall accident.

Call Emergency Services

Police help to preserve the accident scene and paramedics will treat any injuries. Medical documentation is tantamount to your slip-and-fall injury claim.

Some injuries take time to present themselves, so even if you think you are okay, you should still seek medical attention. If you go home and later find an injury, this gives insurance companies grounds to argue you injured yourself at home or at a time unrelated to the fall.

Gather Evidence

Try to take photos and videos of the scene on your phone. Get the contact details of any store personnel and witnesses. Make sure to get their first and last name and write down a physical description of them for yourself.

File a Complaint or Report 

The shopping mall or store management will have their own accident reporting process. Make sure you report the accident to them promptly, and make sure to get a copy of the report.

Cease Communication

Don’t speak to anyone else about the slip-and-fall accident, especially the insurance companies. And never sign documents without consulting a lawyer.

Hire a Shopping Mall Slip-and-Fall Lawyer

A lawyer will analyze your case and discuss the legal avenues you can pursue. They can take the burden of the slip-and-fall lawsuit off you so you can relax and heal. 

What Happens If You Are Also at Fault for the Slip and Fall?

Virginia is a pure contributory negligence state. Under this standard, if you share any responsibility at all for an accident, you are barred from recovery.

Thus, in Virginia, you can not recover compensation for a slip-and-fall accident if you are partially responsible. This is true even if the store is 99% responsible for the fall. That 1% of the responsibility you bear will leave you with no means of compensation.

How Long Do You Have to Bring a Shopping Mall Slip-and-Fall Claim?

Be aware that you have a time limit to bring a claim. Slip-and-fall accidents are premises liability cases—and premises liability is a type of personal injury claim. In Virginia, you have two years to file a personal injury case.   

Your time starts running on the day of the accident. For example, if you slip and fall in a shopping mall on January 27, 2024, then you have until January 27, 2026, to file your slip-and-fall lawsuit.

River Run Law Can Help

At River Run Law, our experienced attorneys know the tactics insurance companies use, and we won’t let them take advantage of you.

Our boutique law firm’s mission is to provide our clients with exceptional service and secure the maximum compensation for their injuries.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip-and-fall accident at a shopping mall, you don’t have to handle everything alone. Call River Run Law and learn how we can help.

Where You Can Find Our Richmond Office Location

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Brooke Alexander

Brooke graduated from the University of Richmond School of Law after receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Brooke worked for five years in private practice with a law firm specializing in insurance defense litigation before becoming the trial litigator for Allstate Insurance Company in the metro Richmond area.

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