Articles Posted in Slip and Fall Injuries

aisle-cart-commerce-1005638-768x1024Supermarkets generally owe a duty to their customers to make sure the store is safe to walk around in. But this duty has certain rules built into it to make sure that this standard is fair to both the customers and the place of business. Where this line is drawn was found by a Shreveport area woman after she slipped and fell on what appeared to be cracked eggs. So, when are stores liable for a slip and fall?

Ava Williams-Ball was shopping at a Brookshire Grocery store when she slipped and fell on a clear “egg-like” substance in the diary aisle. The fall caused her to injure her back and shoulders and these injuries took months of pain relief medication and physical therapy to recover. She brought a lawsuit against Brookshire and her argument that the merchant was liable for her injuries was rejected by the Trial Court. The Trial Court determined that Ms. Ball failed to prove that Brookshire had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition. The Trial Court relied on surveillance video from the store to make its determination. Ms. Ball then appealed the decision on the grounds that the Trial Court committed an error when it decided that Brookshire did not have notice of the dangerous condition and that Brookshire employees did not create the dangerous condition.

For a negligence claim to be successful against a merchant there are three elements the plaintiff needs to prove. La. R.S. 9:2800.6. First, that there was a risk of harm that was not reasonable and that it was foreseeable that harm could be caused. Second, the store either knew about the condition or created the condition. The knowledge of the condition can be actual or constructive knowledge. Third, the plaintiff needs to prove that the merchant did not exercise care that was reasonable. All three of these elements need to be proven for a successful case. White v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 699 So. 2d 1081 (La. Ct. App. 1997). If a plaintiff fails to prove any of the three elements then the case fails. Rowell v. Hollywood Casino Shreveport, 996 So. 2d 476 (La. Ct. App. 2008). Slip and fall lawsuits against a company will not be changed unless the decision was clearly wrong or there was manifest error. Jones v. Brookshire Grocery Co., 847 So. 2d 43 (La. Ct. App. 2003).

chairs-daylight-flowers-2101086-1024x683Accidents happen – both on the job and when going about regular life. When injuries do occur, we are more likely to go about getting treatment rather than gathering evidence. Nobody is falling down the stairs and then getting up to take pictures or get eyewitness reports. Unfortunately, failure to gather sufficient evidence can result in lasting pain and make you responsible for the bill for your injury. So what happens if you don’t gather evidence after an injury on the job?

In Houma, Louisiana, Keith Russell was delivering materials to build a patio on Timothy Walsh’s property. Russell walked toward a fence but there was no gate. Mr. Russell turned around to walk to the other side of the property and in doing so stepped into an uncovered water meter hole where he fell and hurt his knee. There were no witnesses. Mr. Russell finished the delivery and did not speak with Mr. Walsh. Mr. Russell then sued for damages of her injury. Claims for damages based on injuries caused by a “thing” are made pursuant to La. C.C. art 2317 and 2317.1. These statutes establish that an owner is responsible for things in their custody only (1) upon a showing that they knew, or exercising reasonable care, should have known of the defect that caused the damage (2) that damage would have been prevented if the owner exercised reasonable care (3) which he failed to do.

Mr. Walsh filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the claims on the basis that Mr. Russell did not meet his burden of proof that Mr. Walsh had actual or constructive notice of a defect on his property. In support, Mr. and Mrs. Walsh pointed to plaintiff’s deposition testimony, as well as their own affidavits, to show the lack of evidence to support Mr. Russell’s claim. A motion for summary judgment is used when there is no dispute over important facts relating to the issue. An appellate court reviews a summary judgment as if it were a trial court asking whether there is any genuine issue of material fact, and then, whether the plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment is granted if according to the evidence presented there is no dispute over the important facts and the party requesting summary judgment would win.The trial court found that Mr. Russell had the burden to produce evidence that defendant had actual or constructive notice of a lack of a cover on the water meter hole. During questioning the plaintiff said that neither Mr. Walsh nor Mrs. Walsh knew or would have known that the water meter cover was uncovered. This effectively nullified Mr. Russell’s case. Therefore, the trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment ruling against the plaintiff and dismissed all claims against him. The appellate court agreed with the decision of the lower court.Whether Mr. Russell believes that the Walsh family is liable for not covering a hole on his property, his case against them lacked the evidence and material facts to get the case to trial. It is important to find good lawyers who can help prepare you for testimony, collect material facts, and evidence to support valid claims after your injury.

arizona-asphalt-blur-2199293-1024x684Sometimes accidents at work happen. But what happens when an accident could have been prevented by an employee? It is a common question to wonder whether an employer is still liable for the actions of an employee, especially in cases where a defect may be open and obvious. A Louisiana delivery driver confronted this very situation after he was injured on a loading dock.

Saia Motor Freight employee Ethan Rose was delivering to Doerle Food Services, LLC, in December 2010. Because the delivery was so large, a temporary bridge made of a metal docking plate, which extended from the truck and across the gap in the floor from the truck and the warehouse floor, was required to move it off of Rose’s truck and into Doerle Food Services’ warehouse. On December 22, the makeshift bridge did not lie flat, but instead had a bump where the flap hinged. The conditions on the bridge were also muddy and wet. As Rose tried to move a pallet of delivery goods over the bump and hinge, he fell onto the ground, injuring his neck and back.

Rose brought a lawsuit for damages from his injury against Doerle Food Services and its insurance company, Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, eleven months later. In 2015, Doerle Food Services and Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Rose could not prove there was an “unreasonable risk of harm” on the loading dock bridge plate because the defect was open and obvious.

59-032619-photoEvery business which opens its doors to the public owes a duty of care to their patrons, a duty to make sure the patron is safe and free from harm. Often, this is as simple as keeping walkways clear and ensuring spills and other hazards are cleaned up in a timely fashion. But what most businesses have never contemplated is a possibility that the duty of care would be owed to something other than a real, live, breathing person. Could the persons to which a merchant owes a duty of care include “juridical” personhood, such as a corporation or a limited liability company (L.L.C.)? In this instance, the answer was, “no.”

In April of 2013, Deborah Norred slipped and fell in the bathroom of the New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood restaurant on South Clearview Parkway in Jefferson Parish. She filed a lawsuit against the restaurant for negligence. Mrs. Norred was also the only member of American Rebel Arms, an L.L.C. on the verge of opening a firearms store in Holden. American Rebel Arms also filed a lawsuit against New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood for Mrs. Norred’s injury, claiming the injuries postponed the opening of the store, causing economic losses.

The restaurant argued that it had no duty of care to American Rebel Arms. It moved for a peremptory exception for no cause of action. A “peremptory exception” is a court motion which requests the court dismiss the lawsuit. Filing a peremptory exception for no cause of action means that there is no valid claim for which the plaintiff can demand relief. In short, the Defendant did nothing wrong, or at least nothing actionable under law. The Trial Court granted the exception, and American Rebel Arms appealed.

12-Photo-4_2_19-1024x683Ms. Sayre was a guest at the L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles when she tripped and fell while walking in front of the hotel restaurant. Based on the video footage of the accident, there were witnesses to the slip and fall; however, the hotel failed to document anything or take statements from any of the witnesses. Ms. Sayre reported a sticky substance on the floor, and subsequently suffered injuries to her knee, hand, neck, and abdomen. Later, Ms. Sayre learned she also had three fractured ribs and a full rotator cuff tear that would require surgery. So, what happens if you slip and fall in a restaurant?

Ms. Sayre filed a suit for negligence against the resort asserting that the clear, sticky substance caused her fall. She also stated that a restaurant employee told her three other people had fallen in the same spot. When Ms. Sayre attempted to find evidence of the accident, she couldn’t find any and never received an accident report from the resort. She later amended the petition asserting claims that the resort purposely failed to properly secure and preserve evidence to prevent people from bringing suit.

During trial, Ms. Sayre’s counsel requested that the court instruct the jury that failure to preserve evidence raises a presumption that the evidence would’ve been detrimental to the case absent a reasonable explanation. So, if the jury  finds that the defendant could have reasonably preserved the evidence and failed to do so without explanation, the jury can presume that the evidence wouldn’t favor the party. Ms. Sayre was informed by the court that they wouldn’t give the jury those instructions. Sayre’s counsel objected, the trial proceeded, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. Ms. Sayre appealed the decision, claiming that the trial court erred by not giving the jury the instructions she requested.

47-Email-03-13-19-Image-1024x795When most people think of filing a lawsuit, they expect to attend a trial in a court where a judge and jury decide the outcome of the case. However, most of the time cases are decided long before a trial is reached. One of the legal mechanisms for ending a lawsuit before it reaches trial is called a Motion for Summary Judgment. A summary judgment motion allows a party to ask the court to rule in their favor on a particular issue as a matter of law. The court may grant the motion if the parties are in agreement as to the important facts of the case and if the party that is making the motion is legally entitled to prevail on the claim in question. As this case demonstrates, a summary judgment motion can be an effective tool for ending a lawsuit, so when should you ask for summary judgement in a personal injury case?

Javonna Rayfield was staying at the Millet Motel in LaPlace, Louisiana on August 29, 2012, when Hurricane Isaac made landfall and created wind speeds reaching 100 mph. At around 5:00 a.m. Ms. Rayfield was awakened when the ceiling and walls of her room fell on top of her. Ms. Rayfield was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for her injuries. Later, Millet found that a fire door down the hallway was buckled and the hasp lock was dangling and that the high winds had caused a concrete block wall on the floor above to collapse. The concrete blocks fell above Ms. Rayfield’s room, causing the ceiling and wall to buckle and fall.

Ms. Rayfield brought a lawsuit against the Millet Motel and its insurer, United Fire & Insurance Company (“Millet”). She alleged that the premises in the motel were defective and that Millet knew or should have been aware of the defective conditions. Ms. Rayfield filed a summary judgment motion, asking the court to conclude that there was a defective condition on the premises and that this condition was what caused her injuries. Millet similarly filed a summary judgment motion, asking the court to find that Ms. Rayfield’s injuries resulted solely from Hurricane Isaac. The trial court decided in Millet’s favor by granting their summary judgment motion and denied Ms. Rayfield’s motion for partial summary judgment, a decision which Ms. Rayfield appealed.

shopping-cart-1550709-1024x768Most people believe that if you suffer a slip and fall accident in a store, you will most likely be entitled to some level of compensation. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

After a slip and fall accident occurring because of what Regina Williams described as a “puddle of water” at a Super 1 Foods located in New Iberia Parish, Williams filed a lawsuit for negligence against the grocery store. Williams’ lawsuit was filed in New Iberia and named the Brookshire Grocery Company (“Brookshire”), Super 1 Foods’ parent company, as the defendant.

In her lawsuit, Williams alleged that Brookshire had knowledge of the water on the floor and did not use reasonable care to prevent a risk of harm. The trial court ruled in favor of Brookshire by granting summary judgment on their behalf. A motion for summary judgment is a quick and timely judgment requested by a party when there is no genuine issue based on the facts of a case.

ice-calves-1543085-1024x770Ice storms can create hazards for the general public as well as employees. A Mansfield nurse found out that parking lot falls do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. A Shreveport Hospital was able to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits with the help of an excellent attorney after the employee’s fall.

Joyce Lafitte-Nesom is a nurse manager at Christus Schumpert Highland Hospital (the Hospital) in Shreveport. She typically worked an eight-hour shift from 4:00 pm until midnight. She commuted to the Hospital from her home in Mansfield, Louisiana. On February 11, 2014, the area had an ice storm and many nurses were unable to make their shifts due to the storm. The Hospital was put on diversion and stopped accepting patients due to the shortage of employees.

Ms. Nesom worked until 1:40 am instead of midnight because she was told by Hospital security that the Hospital parking lots were icy and the Hospital was low on materials to apply to the parking lot to help alleviate the slippery conditions. The roads to her home in Mansfield were also closed by the police due to the hazardous conditions. After her shift ended, Ms. Nesom made a decision to wait until the roads were better. She tried to rest in an empty room, but at 5:00 am she gave up and started performing her normal duties. She did not count this toward her working hours for the day. Another nursing house supervisor who lived closer, Ahleeka Cummings, allowed Ms. Nesom to stay at her place until conditions improved.

black-hole-1181587-1024x768If injured on someone else’s property, it is important to know what has to be proven in order for a legal case to go forward. If the injury occurs from a defective structure, then the owner of the premise must have constructive knowledge of the defectiveness. The factors a court evaluates when the defective structure is on public property differ from those of a private owner. So, what happens if you are injured on someone else’s property?

A judgment by the 19th Judicial District Court granting the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority (“the Authority”) a summary judgment motion and dismissing the claim by Andrew Blevins (“Blevins”) and his employer’s insurance company, Stonetrust, was affirmed by Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal. Summary judgment is granted when there is no real dispute as to the facts of the case, and the party who requested the summary judgment, known as the mover, is entitled to win the case as a matter of law La. C.C.P. art. 966.

Blevins was working at Electrical Building Service, LLC (“EBS”) and while on the Authority’s property, he stepped into a hole that was hidden by tall unkempt grass, causing him to fall and fracture his ankle. Blevins alleged that the Authority was aware or should have been aware of the giant hole that injured him. When a premise owner should have known about a defect, the knowledge is called “constructive notice.” If constructive notice is shown, the Authority is liable for damages. Here, those damages included medical fees and workers’ compensation benefits that Stonetrust wanted as a reimbursement payment.

StockSnap_D6BZSQ2NM2-1024x683Walmart is buzzing with pedestrian traffic on a daily basis. Where crowds of people are gathered, accidents are sure to follow. Sometimes Walmart’s products are knocked off of shelves, children spill juice in the aisles, and liquid products can slip from a person’s grasp and splatter across the floor leaving a hazardous environment for anyone to slip and fall. Despite Walmart’s best efforts to keep the stores clean, accidents still happen. As a result, legal services may be needed. If that is the case, information about the parties involved is exchanged between the opposing counsels for a period of time known as discovery. Information may be gathered through depositions or a series of questions under sworn testimony out of court. Once sufficient time has been provided for discovery, a party may determine that there is no factual basis for the case to move forward. Because of this lack of material fact, the party may then make a motion for summary judgment. This motion, if granted, can result in a dismissal of the entire lawsuit. Our justice system, however, provides an appeal process for situations where these judgments were granted in error! So, what do you do when you have been blindsided by summary judgement?

In January 2014, Mrs. Mirian Rivas took an ordinary trip to a Walmart in Harvey, Louisiana. While there, she unexpectedly slipped and fell, resulting in injuries. Mrs. Rivas filed for damages in September of 2014 and served Walmart with discovery requests. The following December, those discovery requests were answered and properly mailed by Walmart. Mrs. Rivas and her co-plaintiff, Mr. Cardona, were then deposed by Walmart on April 15, 2015.

Exactly one month later, Walmart filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that Mrs. Rivas lacked sufficient legal elements in her claim against Walmart for her injuries under La. R.S. 9:2800.6. Mrs. Rivas asserted that Walmart’s discovery answers were not completed and that she needed further opportunity to depose the Walmart employees named in Walmart’s answer. The Trial Court granted Walmart’s motion for summary judgment against Mrs. Rivas stating that the discovery time was sufficient. An appeal was instantly filed with the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal alleging the Trial Court erred in granting Walmart’s motion because Mrs. Rivas lacked sufficient time for the discovery process.