When you go out for a meal in a restaurant, the last thing you expect to happen is to suffer an injury, especially when you just sit down for some food. However, chair accidents in American restaurants cause life-changing injuries, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, restaurant owners will sometimes claim that your negligence caused the incident. Learn more about three possible contributory negligence claims that a restaurant owner may try to make, and consider some of the evidence your attorney may use to defend you.
You didn't sit on the chair properly
Contributory negligence laws work on the basis that everybody has a duty to act in a reasonable way to prevent accidents and injuries. As such, if you fall off a chair in a restaurant, the owner may allege that you caused the accident because you didn't sit down properly.
Various factors can increase the likelihood of this counter-claim, especially if you and the other diners consumed a lot of alcohol and behaved raucously. Your attorney may ask for written statements from the other diners saying that you sat correctly on the chair throughout the meal. What's more, you may need to present the receipt for the meal to show that the amount of alcohol your party consumed was reasonable.
Your attorney may also ask for basic medical data from you to show that you were not obese or too heavy for the chair. While the restaurant must provide equipment that is fit for purpose, the owner may say that your excessive weight caused the problem. If you are obese, your attorney may ask for a statement to confirm that the restaurant did not offer you a different chair or other seating arrangement.
You made a mess
A restaurant owner may allege that your conduct created a hazard that caused or contributed to the accident. Any suggestion that you or other dinner party members made a mess on the floor could lead to an allegation of contributory negligence.
Your attorney will probably ask for a list of all the diners with you at the time of the accident. With the diners' ages included, your attorney may attempt to show that there were no children present, which greatly decreases the chances that you made any noticeable mess. If there were children in the party, your attorney may pull together a seating plan to show that you were nowhere near the infants while they ate.
A statement from you or the other diners can also show that you asked a staff member to clean the area. Similarly, if a staff member didn't do anything about the mess, your statement could become even more important.
You ignored a fault
Like any other type of equipment, chairs will sometimes develop faults. Even a simple loose screw could create a safety hazard when somebody sits on the chair. While the restaurant owner is responsible for the equipment, he or she may allege that you ignored or overlooked an obvious fault, which then caused your accident.
Your attorney may ask an expert for advice about the type of problem with the chair. In some cases, an expert may show that it is almost impossible to spot the type of issue that caused the problem. What's more, an examination of other chairs in the restaurant could also show that the problem affects many of the tables in the eatery. You may even gather evidence that shows the chair's design is unsuitable.
Your attorney will also probably ask the owner for maintenance records that show how often he or she checked the equipment. If the elapsed period since the last check is too long, your attorney will argue that the restaurant owner was negligent.
If you have suffered an injury from an accident with a restaurant chair, you could become entitled to significant financial damages, so the diner owner is likely to challenge your claim. Talk to an attorney such as Charles Aaron PLC for more advice about contributory negligence in cases like this.