Court Finds Target Liable for Trip and Fall Accident

If you happen to accidentally trip and fall in a retail store, you may want to consult a personal injury lawyer particularly if it resulted to serious injuries. An 83-year-old woman was shopping in a Target store in Escondido, California, in 2014. She was walking down an aisle when she tripped over a stepladder that a worker in the store had left unattended. The fall caused the woman to fracture her hip, and she filed for damages against the store.

Arguments For the Personal Injury Plaintiff

The elderly woman admitted that she saw the stepladder even before she tripped on it. But she also alleged that there was a full shopping cart directly across the aisle from the ladder, also left by store workers. The ladder and the cart together presented a pathway that was too narrow for her, and her contention was that the ladder should never have been left unattended by the store employees. The plaintiff asked for $250,000 as a settlement, but after Target’s motion for summary judgment was denied by the court the settlement demand rose to $750,000. Target maintained that their workers followed proper procedures, and that they weren’t negligent at all. They held that since the woman saw the stepladder, she should have found a way to avoid it.

The Final Judgment in This Case

The trial took just 5 days, and the jury found for the plaintiff. The jury said that Target was 90% responsible while the woman was just 10% responsible. The gross verdict award by the jury was set at $1,734,167.08. Since the plaintiff was 10% responsible, the verdict was also reduced by 10%, so that the final verdict amount was still more than $1.56 million.

The Consequences for the Business

This particular case demonstrates just how culpable a company may be when their workers act in ways that result in a customer’s serious accident. In this case, Target was liable because their workers left the stepladder unattended, and therefore was aware that there was a hazard. It didn’t matter that the hazard was only for a few seconds.

The case therefore emphasized that a business that causes a hazard has the immediate duty to eliminate that hazard right away. This duty is part of their responsibility to make sure that their place is reasonably free from hazardous conditions.
So if you or a loved one got injured due to an accident in a commercial establishment, you may want to consult a slip and fall personal injury lawyer to determine if you can seek compensation for your injuries to help cover your medical treatment, hospitalization, lost wages and suffering.