Generally, a store has a legal duty to provide a safe shopping environment. And while customers should always be careful, sometimes a store has to make sure that the premises are safe even for customers who are momentarily distracted. After all, customers expect to be paying attention to the merchandise – not to hazards in the aisles.
For example, a Nevada man was hurt when he stumbled and fell over a wooden pallet that a Costco worker had left in a store aisle. He sought to hold Costco responsible, claiming that the store was careless in leaving the pallet there.
From one of our cases here at Guest & Brady, the gentleman was shopping for a new car. The car dealer had cars on display on a grass cover lawn in front of the store. As the customer was walking towards a car, he stepped into an ankle deep hole that was hidden by the evenly cut grass. The nicely groomed grass deceptively hid the danger to the customer. The gentleman seriously twisted his knee tearing cartilage and tendon. Treatment resulted in a knee replacement procedure. We successfully argued that the car dealer in pursuit of profit owes a duty to a prospective customer to warn them of such dangerous conditions. The client received an excellent settlement as compensation for his expenses incurred and permanent impairment to his knee.
At a local Greenville SC restaurant, management laid a rug down on a tile floor to protect against liquid on the floor around a self-serve beverage station. This was a good thought however the management had placed on the floor a non-skid resistant rug. When our client on the rug, it slid from underneath him causing him to fall violently to the floor. He suffered derangement in his knee requiring surgery. The insurance carrier settled the claim for a very fair amount.