Fast food restaurants are an American staple. Drive down any major highway in the US and you’re bound to see a sign or advertisement for some fast food chain’s restaurant. Although these restaurants can provide tasty meals at an affordable price, they have also been the subject of many personal injury lawsuits over the years. The McDonald’s “hot coffee” lawsuit is one case that many people think of when the topic of fast food restaurant lawsuits comes up. What many don’t realize, though, is that fast food restaurants have been the subject of personal injury lawsuits for other reasons. For example, these restaurants’ floors are often made of tile, which can create dangerous slip hazards to customers.
In one recent case, a woman and her family went to eat at a local hamburger restaurant. As she was walking back from the bathroom, she slipped and fell on grease that was on the floor. She was diagnosed with a back sprain and a contusion to her left elbow. Unfortunately, despite physical therapy, she developed severe, persistent elbow pain. She was later diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic permanent condition that caused her to suffer electric-shock-like pain, swelling, and burning to her arm. Her past medical expenses totaled about $36,000, and her future medical expenses are estimated to be about $359,400.
She attempted to return to her job, but was unable to remain on a reduced schedule and instead went on temporary disability. Her past lost earnings totaled about $94,600, and her future economic loss is estimated around $1.71 million.
She sued the restaurant, alleging that the grease on the floor constituted a hazardous condition and that the restaurant’s workers were aware of the hazard but failed to remove it or warn patrons. The plaintiff was prepared to present surveillance video, recorded just minutes before her fall, showing two restaurant employees talking and pointing to the area where she later fell. The video then showed one employee attempting to clean the floor in that area with a squeegee. The plaintiff alleged that the squeegee did not remove any of the grease but simply moved it around. The parties settled before trial for $1.5 million.
Unfortunately, incidents like this one are more common than one would think. Although slips and falls in restaurants rarely make the news, they happen quite frequently. Grease used in cooking can sometimes end up on employees’ shoes and be tracked into the customer area of the restaurant. This coupled with the fact that customers are constantly walking in and out of the restaurants carrying food, condiments and beverages creates many opportunities for slips and falls to occur on the hard floors.
Sometimes, people track water out of the bathroom and onto the floors with their shoes; or other times, rainwater gets tracked in from the outside onto the tile floors of the restaurants. All of these create dangers for the unwary. A simple fall can result in a broken hip, or in this case, an elbow injury, that can lead to something far worse.
The next time you are in a fast food restaurant, or any public place where people are constantly walking in and out, be aware of what is on the floor. Keep an eye out for any puddles or liquids, dropped food and other items that may create a hazard. A trail of water on the floor in the floral section of a supermarket can create a dangerous slip and fall risk to customers. A spilled beer on the steps of a sports area can cause similar dangers.
The intent of this article is to help make you become more aware of the dangers that exist for pedestrians. Don’t let someone else’s carelessness cause you to become injured. If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall as a result of someone else’s negligence, we recommend you consult with legal counsel to discuss your situation.