Court Permits Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff to Proceed with Her Claim Against Large Retailer

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raises interesting and important issues for Florida slip-and-fall accident victims. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case against Walmart should proceed toward trial when there was no actual evidence that the store was aware of the puddle that caused the plaintiff’s fall. Ultimately, the court concluded that Walmart’s “failure to educate” itself regarding a third party’s rental display gave rise to a potential theory of liability, and the plaintiff’s case should proceed toward trial.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell in a Walmart store near a Rug Doctor rental station. The rental station contained several carpet cleaning machines that Walmart shoppers could rent for the day. Pursuant to the agreement between Rug Doctor and Walmart, the rental kiosk was entirely self-sufficient, and no Walmart employees were trained on how to operate the kiosk or the machines.

A video of the period shortly before the plaintiff’s fall showed another customer rent a machine and struggle to get the machine into her cart. The video showed the customer tipping the machine back and forth, potentially causing water to spill; however, due to the quality of the video, no water can actually be seen. After the customer leaves, at least one Walmart employee is seen walking by the rental kiosk. A few minutes later, the plaintiff approaches the area and slips.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against Walmart, claiming that the store was responsible for her injuries. Walmart responded that the plaintiff failed to prove that the store knew or should have known about the spill, and therefore it cannot be held liable.

The Court’s Decision

The court began by noting that Walmart was correct that a premises liability plaintiff must show that a defendant landowner had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard causing a plaintiff’s injury. However, here, the court held that Walmart’s failure to educate store employees about the kiosk – which presented the potential to create a hazard to customers – could not insulate the company from liability.

The court explained that the question of whether Walmart exercised due care was properly a jury question, and summary judgment was thus improper.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated South Florida injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience handling Florida slip-and-fall cases, as well as other Florida personal injury claims. We offer free consultations to accident victims and their families, at which we discuss their case and how we may be able to help. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Verdict in Favor of Patient Reversed by Court Due to Patient’s Failure to Prove Causation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 19, 2017.

Court Dismisses Slip-and-Fall Case Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Provide Specific Location of Injury, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 4, 2018.

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