June 5, 2017
Most people recognize the yellow signs placed in public places to indicate a wet floor. However, if a store or restaurant fails to place these signs in areas of danger, the risk of causing someone to slip and fall significantly increases.
This was the reality of John Coffman, who filed a complaint after he slipped and fell at a Wal-Mart in Illinois due to an unmarked wet spot on the floor. Coffman made the claim that Wal-Mart failed to maintain safe conditions in the store and this resulted in him injuring his leg when he slipped and fell. As compensation for his physical injury, great pain, and incurred medical expenses, Coffman requested a trial by jury where he sought over $50,000 in addition to the cost of the law suit and any further relief that the court may deem appropriate.
A Store’s Liability
In this case, as in many cases like it, it is the store’s responsibility to keep safe conditions for customers or to indicate some suggestion of caution when need be. Whether it’s a big box store like in this case or a smaller boutique, if a business welcomes the public onto their premises, they have a legal duty to maintain a safe environment for these people. Because of this duty, a store can be held liable for an injury resulting from any of these conditions:
- Slippery floor wax
- A rug that has peeled up
- A customer spilled a drink (Even though it is not necessarily the store’s fault, if they know of the condition, it is their responsibility to clean it up.)
- An unmarked wet floor
- Bad lighting
When looking at these cases, the fault issue is a main focus. This looks at whether or not the incident was avoidable, and who is at fault for it. The store will be held accountable if the victim can provide evidence to indicate that the accident was not staged or deliberate. However, if the accident appeared obvious, deliberate, or clearly avoidable, the victim could be held accountable.
4 Steps a Slip and Fall Victim Should Take
1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the most important factor in these cases. Be sure that you put yourself first and seek medical attention for any injury. If the injury is severe enough, the store may insist that you be transported by an ambulance or that you be treated by paramedics on-site.
2. Document with the Store: If you are a victim of a slip and fall personal injury in a big box store, the store itself will typically have an internal procedure for the documentation. Be sure to follow this procedure through. The manager may also ask for witness accounts of the issue, so be sure to take contact information of anyone who witnesses the accident.
3. Document for Yourself: It is important that you keep your own details and documents of the incident. Be sure to take the names of any store employees who talk to you or assist you after the accident. Take pictures of the area that caused your personal injury and anything around it that could have contributed to your slip and fall. You should also take pictures of the injury itself if there is any bruising or bleeding. Be sure to document and file any losses as a result of the injury whether it be days missed form work or medical bills.
4. Contact an Attorney: It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to employ an attorney that you trust to fight on your side in these cases. Big box stores employ entire teams of attorneys, and it would be near impossible for you to fight the case on your own. It is important that you have a trained professional with years of experience to make suggestions and discuss the options ahead so that you receive no less than what you deserve for your injury. Be sure to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident while the details are still fresh on your mind.
Is It Worth It?
Many people are hesitant to go up against a big box store in a law suit because of the high-level attorneys that these corporations typically employ. But as mentioned earlier, any business that welcomes the public is responsible to maintain a safe environment for their customers, so if you can prove that a business failed at this responsibility, resulting in your personal injury, then you could be entitled compensation for your pain, costs, and inconvenience. It is not uncommon to see cases such as John Coffman’s where people receive this compensation, even when fighting against big corporations like Wal-Mart:
- In 2011, a 48-year-old man received $230,802 after suing Target for his slip and fall injury. In a Target Store near St. Petersburg, the plaintiff slipped on liquid soap, and his fall resulted in a torn meniscus.
- In 2012, a 49-year-old man was awarded $2.3 million dollars after suing Kroger for his slip and fall injury. The man slipped on a piece of fruit that was smashed on the floor, and this fall resulted in a spinal cord injury and intense surgery.
- In 2011, a 57-year-old man was awarded $159,125 from Home Depot after slipping on a patch of ice on their property. This fall resulted in a torn quadricep which required surgery.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at the fault of a big box store, then you deserve compensation for your pain and inconvenience. Call one of our personal injury attorneys at Hensley Legal Group today for a free case review, or contact us online.