Can you do anything to prove a slip-and-fall case has merit?

Slip-and-fall accidents have been played for laughs on stage and screen for decades by actors taking pratfalls as part of a show — but a slip and fall is no laughing matter in real life.

Take, for example, the case of a New Orleans woman who fell on some fruit that had been left on the floor at a local Walmart. The woman allegedly fell on a crushed grape, injuring herself. While her injuries aren’t specified in the news report, she is accusing the store of failing to clean up the mess in a timely manner or warn patrons of the potential hazard.

The duty of a shopkeeper to keep his or her floor clear of hazards that can lead to a slip and fall go way back in the American legal system — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every slip-and-fall case is easy to prove.

In order to be successful, the woman will have to show one of two things:

  1. Management knew there was a danger and failed to take action to remedy the situation.
  2. The danger had been there long enough that management should have known it was there — if the manager was doing his or her job.

That’s the reason that employees are regularly sent to patrol aisles and sweep up areas where spills are likely to happen — particularly produce and dairy sections, which are prone to spills. If the grape had just landed on the floor a few minutes before the woman fell, then it’s simply her bad luck — not the shopkeeper’s fault (unless, of course, he’d seen it fall or already been told about it).

Generally speaking, if you’re ever in a slip-and-fall situation (or with someone who is), you may be able to help prove the case by taking a few simple photos with your cellphone’s camera. In particular, photos that show exactly how dirty the floor really was at the time of the accident may lend credibility to the claim that management wasn’t taking good care of the grounds that night. If the fruit, for example, has already turned brown, that’s a good way to show that it was sitting on the floor for quite some time and give your case more merit.

A personal injury attorney can provide more information on how you can protect your rights following a slip-and-fall accident.

Source: Louisiana Record, “Woman claims she slipped on fruit left on floor at New Orleans Walmart,” Carrie Bradon, Aug. 16, 2017

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