The following is an expert answer given by Broward County Injury Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:
Thank you in advance for any info you can give me. I live in TX. This happened in a local grocery store. Short version of story.
I was going to get broccoli but had to go further down to grab a bag. When I stepped on the rug, it slid and I started doing a balancing act. I was able to prevent a fall, which I was told by doctors, I would have been better off falling. Before I left the store I was hurting.
I reported the water to the manager, who also nearly slid, and he only touched the edge of the rug. He pulled it up to find water floating under the rug. The rugs were put down in the last few years as when they spray the produce there was always water getting on the floor. He referenced this and that we try to check the area and I said that apparently it hasn’t been checked in awhile. He asked me if I wanted to file a report and I said I better. His version of the report was taking my name and phone number.
There also was an elderly man and woman that were walking up and saw me. I pointed them out as witnesses to him and he said he would get their info since I did not have paper and pen…he did not, as by the time he got the water tended to they were gone. My mistake for not following up but I was waiting for my daughter to come and did not realize I was going to hurt this bad later.
Muscle strain all over but the biggest problem has been a groin strain. Dr said due to my age (51) that it would take a long time to heal and could be easier to get one again, especially since it was taking me so long to get treatments. I had doctors dropping from my insurance policy and kept having to make new appointments.I couldn’t even get my left leg in the car so I lost wages as well.
So do you think this is worth pursuing or not to get my medical paid? I have heard these cases are hard to prove and I don’t feel good enough to deal with something if it is a waste of time.
I am a Broward County injury lawyer in Florida, specializing in car accident claims, slip and fall claims, and workers compensation claims. Laws vary from state to state, so the law for a Florida accident or injury such as a slip and fall may be quite different than the laws where you live.
Depending on the severity of your injury, you most likely have a claim for payment of your medical bills, and, a claim for your injuries and pain and suffering. Claims in Florida are evaluated based upon the degree of liability that exists against the store, the specific nature of the injury, the amount and type of medical care and bills that you have had, and that you may continue to require in the future, and the amount of pain and suffering you have experienced in the past, and future. Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity can also be recovered in Florida.
Its tough to say right now whether your claim is “worth pursuing”. It really depends on whether your injury goes away in a few days, or lingers. The problem with waiting is you don’t know right now whether the injury will go away, or how long it could take to heal.
Keep in mind, at least in Florida, just because a person slips in a grocery store, it does not automatically mean the store is responsible for injuries which result from the fall. You have to be able to prove that the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition that caused the fall. Generally, a property owner or store owner only owes two duties to persons lawfully on the property – maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn persons on the property of dangerous conditions that the person may not be able to appreciate themselves.
Obviously there was a problem in the store, and it doesn’t look like the carpet on the floor fixed the problem. It appears the store management and employees should have known that they had a dangerous condition and taken steps to eliminate the condition, or at a minimum, warn customers about the area. While slip and fall cases are difficult, if you can establish the store knew about this problem, the case will be easier to settle, and easier to prove if you have to file a lawsuit.
The best advice I can give you is to speak with an attorney that specializes in premises liability claims, i.e. slip and fall. The attorney can advise you whether the law is in your area is different than for Florida slip and fall accidents.
As a Broward County injury lawyer, my advice is that you should contact an attorney soon. There are many steps your attorney should take now, i.e. notify the insurance company for the store, find out what types of coverage are available, including whether any medical payments coverage exists. If the accident occurred at large grocery store chain, you’ll want to check to see whether there have been claims similar to yours that occurred at the location. If the store copied down the names of any witnesses, you’ll want to speak to them to verify their observations.
You’ll also want to check to see if there is any in-store surveillance video. The video may have recorded the fall. It also may have recorded the 10-15 minutes before the fall which would indicate whether any store employees checked the area for water prior to you walking through the area.
Most attorneys specializing in premises liability, i.e. slip/trip and fall, claims handle the claims on a contingent basis,i.e. the attorneys fee is a percentage of any money they recover for you, and offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss whether you have a viable case. So, you have nothing to lose by at least speaking to an accident injury lawyer to see whether you have a claim, and also get a better idea of the value of your claim.