Understanding Slip and Fall Cases Through Real-World Examples

August 1, 2020

Our experienced attorneys have handled many slip and fall cases. If you’ve been injured in such an accident, contact the Boston personal injury attorneys at Michael Kelly today.

If you slip and fall in a retail store or any business, you can file a personal injury claim. Whether it is a local independent retail store, a grocery chain like Safeway or Kroger, or a nationwide retail chain like Target or Walmart, the business is legally required to take steps that ensure the safety of the public. As such, anyone that sustains injuries in a slip and fall accident while on the premises may be eligible to sue the business. However, things might not be smooth sailing, as you may think. In this article, we shall delve deeper into slip and fall cases filed against these types of retailers, and the essential factors worth considering.

Duty to Maintain Safe Premises

All companies that that open themselves to the public are legally required to maintain a safe environment to protect people. When a customer slips and falls in a store, be it a local retailer or a nationwide chain, the company will be liable for the injuries. If proven that the accident happened because of unsafe conditions on the business premises, then you are the victim of a slip and fall accident and should act quickly to start the legal processes that will ensure you are compensated for your damages.

Slipping and falling in a retail store is not an uncommon accident. It can happen because of many different reasons. For instance, a customer might fall due to snow or ice at the entryway, trip over frayed flooring, or slip because floors have been cleaned recently. Moreover, warning signs might be put up but haphazardly placed, causing a customer to miss them or even fall in their path. In some instances, the problem could stem from the fact that the store is poorly lit, resulting in poor visibility. The possibilities are diverse, but they all led to the same issue of a slip and fall accident. Therefore, the retailer or business has the legal mandate of noting and fixing any hazards that can lead to accidents.

Slip and Fall Cases Involving In-Store Injuries

To help you have a better picture of the diversity of this issue, below are some slip and fall cases where customers sustained injuries while shopping in retail stores and took legal action against those businesses.

1. Injured in Florida, Sued in New York

A woman who injured her back after slipping on an iced drink at a Florida Costco store filed her claim against the business in New York, but Costco tried to have the case heard in Florida where the incident occurred. The New York judge rejected Costco’s motion allowing the matter to be tried in NY. It was a ruling that kept the plaintiff from incurring high court and travel expenses and the inconveniences of having to travel while injured. Costco was ordered to bear the burden of having the case tried in another state.

2. Hartner v. Home Depot

In the Hartner vs. Home Depot case, a woman tripped after hitting a utility hole cover obscured by water, fell, and hurt her knee. In their defense, Home Depot argued that the plaintiff had no substantial ground for suing them because the danger was open and visible. However, the jury ruled in favor of the woman, stating that the store was 95% to blame for the accident. Furthermore, the jury determined the compensation that Home Depot was to pay the woman for her injuries and losses was $1M. After factoring in her 5% of the fault, she was awarded $950,000.

3. Costco Employee Negligence

A plaintiff who shattered her kneecap after slipping on a puddle of liquid soap while in a Costco store sued the business and a California jury sided with the plaintiff. The injured woman said that numerous Costco employees had walked past the spill and ignored it instead of addressing the issue. The verdict for the case saw the woman receive more than $400,000 paid by Costco for her medical treatment and anguish attributed to the injuries.

4. Costco And The “Pot Sticker” Case

A woman who injured her tailbone after slipping on food while at a Costco store in California, stated that the employees had been dishing out free food sample on the premises. In her argument, the woman said that Costco should have routinely inspected the floors to ensure all customers were safe when walking around shopping or sampling food. However, the jury disagreed with her and sided with Costco, stating that Costco’s hourly floor inspections are more than adequate.

5. Walgreens Wins

In a case against Walgreens in Broadview, Illinois, the plaintiff could not provide any evidence showing the source of the liquid that caused him to slip and fall. Walgreens claimed that the man slipped because he had walked in the snow, and his shoes were wet before entering the store, but the man claimed the store’s floor was already wet. The matter was ruled in favor of the store, with the man also losing a subsequent appeal.

6. Home Depot “Deleted Evidence” Case

In the Baynes vs. Home Depot case in Pennsylvania, a woman sued the home improvement store after she slipped on an unknown substance while on the business premises. She had asked the store to produce the video surveillance for that day, but Home Depot could not deliver, saying that the surveillance footage relevant for that day was deleted. However, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff despite the lack of video evidence, ordering the home improvement store to pay Baynes $44,383.61.

7. Lowes Employee Forklift Accident

An employee at a Lowe’s Home & Garden Center in West Melbourne, Florida, was driving a forklift next to a checkout line and ran into a customer who was standing in line waiting to be served, injuring him severely.  The man sustained numerous orthopedic damages and was awarded a compensation of $600,000.

8. Lanier vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

It is a case that brought about some changes in how slip and fall cases are handled. In this Kentucky case, the court pointed out that if the plaintiff could give evidence of falling and sustaining injuries caused by a foreign substance on the ground, then a rebuttable presumption would arise, suggesting Wal-Mart did not maintain a safe environment for its customers. Therefore, the store would be tasked with proving it did exercise care by ensuring the premises were clean and safe.

The Lanier court concluded that retail giants such as Wal-Mart, with their method of self-service shopping, increases the risk of incidents where a customer could trip or slip and fall. The court explained that a picture of the aisle where the plaintiff fell supported the notion that the store arranges its displays in a manner that draws people’s attention toward their products instead of the condition of the floors where hazards might exist.

Get in Touch with an Experienced Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer for Help

Slip and fall accidents are not that uncommon.. And while the injuries sustained in these types of accidents are often minor, some can be severe. Whether you trip on a rough patch, slip on a wet floor, or fall on the stairs, the reason is mostly associated with poorly maintained surfaces. If this happened to you, you may be eligible to get compensation.

If you are unable to prove the store is responsible for your accident, or are unsure if they are to blame, contact an experienced and reputable slip and fall attorney for help. Your lawyer will investigate the matter to determine if you have a case worth pursuing and ensure that you file the personal injury claim on time and within the rule of law.. Get in touch with our personal injury law firm in Boston today to discuss your case and discover how our experienced legal team will help ensure you get the compensation you rightly deserve.

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.