Oftentimes, when people hear the words “personal injury,” images of car accidents come to mind.  However, few realize that car accidents account for only one type of personal injury cases.  Slip and fall injuries due to the negligence of business owners and property owners account for many personal injury cases in the US each year.  For example, an injured person recently won a personal injury jury trial in Florida against Wal-Mart. 

In that case, entitled Papakalodoukas v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the plaintiff was injured when he slipped and fell on a plastic sign that had fallen from a Gatorade display onto the floor of a Wal-Mart store.  The plaintiff suffered a torn tendon in his right arm, and he had to undergo three surgeries to repair the damage.  One of the surgeries involved having a cadaver Achilles tendon grafted into his arm.  The plaintiff’s past medical expenses totaled more than $200,000.  The plaintiff sued Wal-Mart, alleging that it negligently assembled and maintained the display, causing the sign to fall.  A Gatorade manager testified that the sign would not have fallen if it had been properly assembled and maintained.  The plaintiff also presented evidence that Wal-Mart had discarded the sign after the incident. 

Wal-Mart argued in the trial that the plaintiff failed to keep a proper lookout.  Wal-Mart also argued that the sign display was properly assembled and maintained and that the sign fell because of Gatorade’s negligence in providing plastic screws.  The plaintiff argued that if the Wal-Mart store had assembled the display according to Gatorade’s instructions, it would not have fallen and that if the screws broke and the sign fell, it was Wal-Mart’s responsibility to repair the display or to remove the hazard. 

The jury found that Wal-Mart negligently assembled and maintained the display.  The jury allocated fault at 90% to the store and 10% to the plaintiff.  The jury then awarded about $1.29 million, including $800,000 for past and future pain and suffering.  Based on the jury’s allocation of fault, Wal-Mart is responsible for about $1.16 million.

Trip hazards and slip hazards sometimes are open and obvious, but many times they are hidden from view.  For this reason, the general public must always use care and caution when walking on someone else’s property.  This is especially true during the busy holiday shopping season when many people are walking and shopping at stores and malls.  Liquids can spill and debris can fall, causing significant risk to people walking in the affected area. 

Every single day, our firm represents people who have been injured in falls as a result of someone else’s negligence.  If you or someone you know has been hurt in a slip and fall or in a trip and fall due to someone else’s negligence, give us a call right away.