When discussing the concept of “premises liability,” many lawyers use grocery store spills as an example because it is a hazard familiar to all of us. Broken jars, freshly mopped floors and vegetables that fall on the floor create the perfect conditions for slip-and-fall accidents. If grocery store employees fail to notice and or address the hazardous conditions, the store can be held liable for injuries suffered by customers.
It is perhaps fitting, then, that some grocery stores are turning to technology to solve what has been a persistent problem leading to accidents and liability. A news article from earlier this year notes that certain grocery chains in the U.S. and elsewhere are employing specialized robots to detect slip-and-fall hazards and alert employees while also staying out of the way of shoppers.
According to the article, robots roam the store and stop once they detect a potential spill or item that could cause a slipping/tripping hazard. Each robot has eight cameras so that it can see in all directions. When it discovers a potential hazard, it alerts employees. It then may continue on its way, returning a few minutes later and waiting for confirmation that a spill has been addressed.
Although technology like this could be completely autonomous, the cameras on some robots are monitored remotely by humans at a control center.
As always, the use of robots and cameras does raise some security and privacy concerns. But considering just how devastating slip-and-fall accidents can be, many find the tradeoff to be worth it.
This practice may eventually be standard at grocery stores around the United States. Until then, however, it is up to grocery store employees to carefully monitor all hazards customers face. If you or a loved one has been severely injured in a grocery store slip-and-fall or other premises liability scenario, please discuss your legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney.