3 Examples of Slip and Fall Lawsuits to Learn From

April 11, 2016

Slip and fall lawsuits are filed every day across this country, with varying outcomes. There are a number of different situations that could lead to a slip and fall accident. In order to prevail with a personal injury claim you must be able to prove that one of the following is true:

  • The property owner of the premises where the slip and fall occurred failed to recognize and remedy a hazardous situation.
  • The property owner of the premises where the slip and fall occurred caused the hazardous situation that led to the accident.

You must be able to furnish sufficient evidence to establish one of these statements and be able to prove that you sustained injuries as a result. Evidence is crucial. It can come in the form of witness testimony, written documentation, photos, videos, and more. Let’s look at a few examples of slip and fall cases that had varying outcomes. 

Holly Averyt v. Wal-Mart

In 2007, truck driver Holly Averyt slipped in grease while making a delivery to a Wal-Mart store in Greeley, Colorado. As a result of the accident Averyt suffered a ruptured disc in her spine and injured her neck and shoulder making it impossible for her to return to her job as a trucker and causing her chronic pain. Averyt filed a slip and fall lawsuit against Wal-Mart for negligence and premises liability. The case went to trial and a jury awarded her $15 million in damages.  This was one of the largest payouts ever awarded in a slip and fall case in the U.S. According to the case file, this award included “$4.5 million in economic damages; $5.5 million in non-economic damages; and $5 million for her physical impairment.” However, the trial court reduced the final award to $10 million in accordance with state law which limits the pain and suffering award amount to $366,250.

 

What Influenced the Outcome?

In slip and fall cases, proving that a property owner knew of a hazardous situation or proving that he or she should have known of a hazardous situation can be difficult. Therefore, in the case of Holly Averyt it was important to furnish solid evidence that Wal-Mart knew there was a grease spill and failed to act. This evidence came in the way of the Greeley report – a memorandum referencing the grease spill and cleanup from the city of Greeley. Without this piece of evidence a victory for the plaintiff in this case would have been unlikely.

 

Maria Mangano v. Mercy Vocational High School

Maria Mangano was the director of career services at a Mercy Vocational High School in North Philadelphia when she slipped and fell on wet flooring glue. The high school had recently hired Wargo Floors to install new flooring in the building. When a Wargo Floors employee asked Mangano to step into the hall and unlock a door, she stepped out of her classroom onto freshly applied flooring adhesive and fell backwards onto her back and hips. As a result of her fall she suffered nerve damage and was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome. Unable to return to work due to her injuries, Mangano sued Wargo Floors. Before the case could go to trial a settlement was reached and Wargo Floors agreed to pay Mangano $5 million in damages.

 

What Influenced the Outcome?

In this case, the property owner and contractor created and knew of the dangerous condition that existed.  An agent for the property then directed Ms. Mangano to walk over the dangerous area.  It does not appear that Ms. Mangano had any knowledge or notice of the specific dangerous condition that existed.  She suffered significant physical injuries that will likely impact her functioning for the remainder of her life.

 

Bettie Daniels v. Sears Roebuck

Bettie Daniels, 75, filed a negligence-based premises liability lawsuit against Sears Roebuck after falling in one of their dressing rooms and injuring her arm, shoulder and hip. Daniels claimed that the “unusually shiny” floor caused her to fall. Beyond the excessive shininess Daniels produced no additional evidence. In fact, Daniels herself and Sears employees present at the time of the fall stated that they did not observe anything on the floor that would have caused Daniels to fall.

 

Judge Richard Barclay Surrick ruled against Daniels after she failed to prove “(1) The existence of a duty or obligation recognized by law; (2) A breach of the duty; (3) Causal connection between the breach of duty and the resulting injury; and (4) Actual loss or damage.”

 

What Influenced the Outcome?

In this example, based on the evidence identified within the Court’s order, it appears that there was a lack of evidence to support the plaintiff’s claim. According to the Penn Record, “Surrick referred to Daniels’ assertion that a jury could infer the ‘shiny’ floor counted as a hazardous condition as an inference amounting to nothing more than “sheer speculation.”  Neither a Court, nor a jury can be asked to guess whether a condition caused the personal injury. There has to be some reasonable proof and causal connection between the condition and the injuries.

 

If you have been the victim of a slip and fall incident and suffered injuries or trauma as a result, Sherman Law can help. We have been litigating slip and fall claims for over 23 years and can help you take the right steps to protect your rights get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.