According to her lawsuit, Hendrickson v. Lowe’s Home Centers LLC, plaintiff accuses the store of negligently allowing water to pool in the outdoor garden area of the shopping center. She said this created a dangerous condition about which the store knew or should have known and which posed unreasonable hazards to customers.
Trial began this month in the personal injury lawsuit, which is being heard by a state court in Nevada.
Plaintiff, a married mother of three, is seeking not just compensatory but punitive damages in the case. The basis for this is the fact that the chain store knew of at least 33 other slip-and-fall incidents at other locations across the country – all occurring in the outdoor garden supplies sales areas.
A fractured skull and traumatic brain injury caused by plaintiff smacking her head on the concrete floor in the fall has resulted in a permanent loss in her sense of taste and smell.
Defense has countered that:
- Plaintiff is contributorily negligent;
- Danger was open and obvious;
- There was a four-foot-tall caution cone near the puddle, onto which plaintiff had fallen;
- The 33 prior falls in outdoor garden sales areas occurred at 13 stores over the course of five years.
A defense lawyer asserted that this was a “one-in-a-million” incident (even though it had happened at this particular store location at least twice in the five years before plaintiff’s injuries). Defense also argued it took reasonable precautions to prevent injury to customers.
Now, it’s up to jurors to decide whether those measures were reasonable.
The store has stated standing water in that area was unavoidable because this was July in Las Vegas. The temperatures reached a sweltering 113 degrees and constantly watering the plants was the only way to keep them from wilting and dying in the outdoor space. Not only did customers know this, the store had made it a point to place large orange cones around the area to warn about the slip-and-fall hazard, and plaintiff had an obligation to watch where she was going.
In South Carolina, the existence of contributory negligence (the extent to which plaintiff is responsible for his or her own injuries) is not in and of itself grounds to dismiss a case. However, if plaintiff is more than half responsible for the injuries, the claim will be barred. Otherwise, the total damage award will be reduced by the percentage of fault plaintiff shares.
Property owners in South Carolina owe the highest duty of care to business invitees – those that are on site for the commercial benefit of the property owner.
These cases tend to be tougher than most other personal injury lawsuits because:
- There is usually no official incident report from law enforcement;
- It’s rare that defendant concedes liability;
- There are typically no witnesses (and in this case, none of the dozens of cameras inside the store captured the fall).
All this creates some hurdles for injured plaintiffs. That’s why you must only trust your case to an experienced injury lawyer.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Trial starts in negligence case against Lowe’s Home Centers, March 30, 2016, By Carri Geer Thevenot, Las Vegas Journal-Review
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Fleming v. Sanders Lead Co. – Work Site Injury and Duty to Inspect, March 20, 2016, Rock Hill Slip-and-Fall Accident Lawyer Blo