In recent years, Sears Holdings, the umbrella company for all Sears and Kmart stores in the United States, suffered significant financial losses and closed hundreds of stores. Today few stores remain and the financial struggles resulted in decreased infrastructure investments. Without adequate renovation, many stores have hazardous conditions, and funding cuts often leave them understaffed. The potential for neglecting safety precautions is high. Floor spills and damage account for more than two million slip and falls every year, and more than one million of those result in hospital visits. If you were injured in a slip and fall at Sears, you may be entitled to compensation.
What Are the Possible Hazards at Sears?
You can slip and fall on almost anything left on the floor. However, the most common conditions leading to a slip and fall at Sears are spills, wet floors, and uneven floors. Should you sustain an injury from any of those, you might recover compensation for damages, such as medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Spills are not limited to liquids. Yes, spilled liquids, such as water or any drink, can cause a dangerous fall. However, Sears and Kmart are department stores that carry an array of inventory in many different departments. Employee duties include maintaining a clear floor space by making regular checks for clothing or other items that may fall off the rack. You could trip over a loose shirt lying on the floor and seriously injure yourself.
Wet and Uneven Floors
Wet floors can happen almost anywhere and in a store as large as Sears it could go unnoticed for a long time. Uneven floors left untreated are the property owner’s responsibility to fix right away. Among a store manager’s duties are regular inspections and maintenance. If damaged or uneven floors are not noted and fixed after a scheduled inspection, the company is liable for any accidents that happen.
What Constitutes a Slip and Fall in Indiana?
A slip and fall accident is a type of personal injury case listed under the broader category of premises liability. To sue under slip and fall laws, you must have slipped, fallen, and sustained an injury while on someone else’s property. In Indiana, the statute of limitations on a slip and fall claim is two years from the day of the accident. The burden of proving fault falls on the plaintiff.
To receive compensation for your injuries, your attorney must prove that either the employees at Sears or the property owner are liable for the accident. Evidence must show that either of them had knowledge of the dangerous condition and did nothing to remedy it. Once you file a suit and make that claim, you must prepare for potential arguments from the defendant.
Potential Arguments From the Defendant
In slip and fall cases, there are a few common arguments used by the defendant to shift blame to you. Here are some examples:
- The dangerous condition was out in the open and should have been obvious. This argument is called the Open and Obvious Doctrine.
- A distraction, such as looking at your phone, diverted your attention away from your surroundings.
- You walked through an area of the property that you were not allowed to use.
- The dangerous condition was marked with signage or cones.
- You knew the conditions were unsafe and chose to risk injury. This argument stems from the Assumption of Risk rule.
- You retain at least partial blame for the accident because of your own actions.
This last argument refers to a law in Indiana called Comparative Fault. In this case, the liability falls on both you and the defendant. If you are found more than 50 percent liable, you cannot recover any compensation from the defendant. If you are less than 51 percent liable, the defendant must cover the remaining percentage of damages.
How Should You Handle a Slip and Fall Accident?
The events in the immediate aftermath of a slip and fall accident are important. You use any information that you have from the scene and your medical treatment to build your case.
In the heat of the moment, forgetting to make note of everything around you is normal, especially if you have suffered an injury. However, if you are able, take photos or video of the scene. Include the condition that caused the fall as well as the surrounding area. If you did not do this, Sears probably has security cameras on the premises. Your attorney can request those to see if your accident was recorded, but this footage frequently disappears within one month of the accident.
See a Doctor
Even if you feel fine, see a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries are apparent immediately. Others show symptoms later. For example, if you suffered a brain or spinal injury, early intervention can prevent permanent or long-lasting damage. It also provides medical records to prove your injury.
Report the Accident
Report the accident to the closest authority, like a manager. Have them provide a copy of a written accident report. This provides a record of the incident, but if you are seriously injured, medical treatment should take priority.
Contact a Lawyer
Contact a lawyer as soon as you are able. A personal injury attorney conducts an interview first to learn all the details surrounding your accident. The sooner you call, the fresher those details are in your mind. An attorney also guides you through the next steps to help you build your case.
Should You Contact a Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer? Why?
In short, you should contact a personal injury lawyer after a slip and fall in Sears. Attorneys carry the burden of proving your case while you heal. They will handle rounding up documentation, negotiating a settlement, dealing with the insurance agents, and spearheading the investigation. They have access to professionals that can help corroborate your story, and more importantly, they offer professionalism and guidance through the complex legal process. If you were injured in a slip and fall at Sears, our team of personal injury lawyers at Hensley Legal Group is here to help you through this difficult time and get you the compensation that you deserve. Contact us here.