Trip or slip and fall cases against retailers – like Walmart, Winn Dixie, or BreauxMart, etc., are difficult cases to prove because of the elements required by law to successfully win a fall case under Louisiana law. The victim must be prove that the hazardous condition, that caused the fall, was there for enough time that the store either knew about the hazardous condition or should have known about the hazardous condition (or that the store created the hazard).
Hazardous conditions can involve a liquid substance and/or spilled products on the floor, such as water, ice, liquid soap, grease, olive oil, etc. Other items such as produce (grapes or celery pieces) or anything that could cause a person to unexpectedly slip, trip and/or fall can be considered a hazardous condition.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 95% of hip fractures are sustained during falls, and risk of death within a year skyrockets after such a fracture. Falls are also the primary cause of traumatic brain injuries and a major factor in bleeding and internal injuries in this age group. All told, more than 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency rooms and 800,000 are hospitalized every year for injuries sustained in falls.
More than 420,000 people die worldwide each year after falling. Falls are the second-leading cause of death by injury, after car accidents in the United States, falls cause 32,000 fatalities a year.
More patients go to the emergency rooms in the U.S. after falling than from any other form of mishap, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly triple the number injured by car accidents.
It makes sense that falls dwarf most other hazards. To be shot or get in a car accident, you first need to be in the vicinity of a gun or a car. But falls can happen anywhere at any time to anyone. Spectacular falls from great heights outdoors are extremely rare.
The most dangerous spots for falls are not rooftops or cliffs, but low-level, interior settings of everyday life: shower stalls, supermarket aisles, and stairways. Any fall, even a tumble out of bed, can change life profoundly, taking someone from robust health to grave disability in less than one second.
If your fall was caused by the negligence of a property owners or a retail outlet, (such as Walmart, Rouses, and Walgreens, convenience stores, etc) you have potential right of recovery for your serious injuries against the property owner and or the retail outlet.
The burden of proof to recover from property owner or retail outlets is difficult. The victim must prove that the negligence of the property owner permitted an unreasonably dangerous condition to exist for a sufficient amount of time that the property owner or retail outlet had an opportunity to correct the problem or failed to do so. The fall victim must prove that the store or property owner knew about an unreasonably dangerous condition that caused the victim to fall and that the retail store or property owner had ample time to correct the unreasonably dangerous and hazardous condition.
Unreasonably hazardous conditions in supermarkets or any retail store can be water, oil, or grease that was on the floor for a prolonged period of time and the store owner knew or should have known about the hazard on the floor and failed to prevent it or correct it.
A property owner can be held accountable for hazards on its premises and for trip hazards such as a two inch deviation on a sidewalk or walking surfaces on the property that is a trip hazard. Property owners and retail outlets have an obligation to maintain their stores and properties in a reasonably safe condition.
The problem usually faced by fall victims is to prove that the store knew about the hazardous condition in a sufficient amount of time to correct it and prevent the fall.
Do not rely on a stores’ video surveillance system to assist you in prosecuting your case and substantiating that time delay. Most of the time by the time the claim is presented to the store or property owner the video tape of the fall and defective and hazardous condition will have been destroyed. Louisiana law does not strongly penalize a store owner or property owner for routinely destroying videos that would be helpful to the plaintiff in prosecuting the case.
If you do sustain a fall it’s extremely important that you try to get the name, address, and phone number of any witnesses to the fall. If you do not have the name, address, and phone number you do not have a witness that you can call at trial or prove your case.
It’s important that you make a report to the property owner (the retail store or premises owner) that the fall occurred and how it happened . Also, take pictures of the hazardous defect that caused you to fall; if it’s a puddle of water or grease at the grocery store take a picture of that hazard, if it was a height deviation on the sidewalk take a picture of the height deviation. Whatever caused you to fall you need to take photographs of the hazard that caused your fall and report it to the property owner.
My office has a tremendous amount of experience in prosecuting slip and fall cases and consults with experts to attempt to prove the case, such as safety experts and material analysis experts.
If you have a fall case and you are injured and you believe that the fall was caused by the fault of someone else please contact me as soon as possible after the fall.