Client Sues HEB for Injuries from Slipping on Oil

The O’Hara Law Firm represents a woman who slipped on olive oil left on the floor by a HEB employee.  The woman visited the store in Houston, Texas near closing time.  When the woman walked next to an empty olive bar, she slipped on oil and injured her knee.  The customer underwent surgery to repair her torn meniscus.  The woman hired a slip and fall attorney and sued HEB after she was unable to resolve her claim with the store.

Fall injuries are one of the most common injuries suffered by customers in retail stores.  Insurance companies routinely publicize articles and provide education to companies regarding how to take measures to prevent falls. Merchandise is often placed at a minimum height or higher to reduce tripping hazards.  Warning signs are placed on wet floors to provide notice of slipping hazards.  Safety procedures are taught to reduce the likelihood of injury when employees stock shelfs.  Even with all of these guidelines and policies in place, companies still sometimes create unsafe conditions that injure customers.

The O’Hara Law Firm’s client was injured by an employee’s failure to carefully close out the olive bar.  The employee removed all of the containers of food and utensils but allowed some of the olive oil to spill on the floor.  The employee failed to clean up the spilled oil.  The customer later walked by and slipped on the oil.  The incident was recorded on HEB’s surveillance video. 

 

Slip and Fall Claims

 The most difficult part of proving that a company is liable for a slip and fall on its property is proving that the company knew or should have known about the dangerous substance on the floor before the customer fell.  Companies rarely ever admit to knowing that there was a slippery substance on the floor, so the victim is left with proving that the company should have known about the substance prior to the fall.  In order to prove that the company should have known, the customer must prove that the substance was on the floor long enough that an employee of the company should have discovered it.  This is not an easy task. 

Surveillance videos and witness testimony sometimes is sufficient to prove that the slippery substance was on the floor for a long enough period of time that an employee of the company should have noticed it and cleaned it up.  However, stores do not always have surveillance video or keep it.  It is important to send a notice letter to the company as soon as possible requesting the company to not destroy any surveillance video taken of the scene.  It is also helpful if the victim is able to take pictures of the scene.  This is not always possible depending on the significance of the injury. 

 

Steps After a Trip and Fall

 If you are injured from a fall in a store, notify an employee immediately.  Do not leave and report it later.  The store will contend that the customer was never injured at the store if no one is notified immediately after the incident. 

If you are able, take photographs of the area where you fell before leaving the store.  Also take down the name and telephone number of any witnesses that saw the fall or unsafe condition.  Do not trust the store to record the witnesses. 

If you are seriously injured, seek medical attention immediately after leaving the store.  When asked by a medical professional how you were injured, notify the medical professional that you fell at a store.  It is important that the medical records reflect how you were injured.  If you fail to mention that you fell at a store, the lawyers for the company may claim your injuries were not from the fall at the store.

Contact a slip and fall lawyer before making a claim to the store.  If you make a statement to an insurance adjustor without representation, the adjustor may attempt to get you to make statements that hurt your ability to successfully bring a claim against the store.  A personal injury attorney will know how to best present your claim to obtain the best result.  Most of the time, a person representing himself will obtain only a fraction of what a personal injury attorney could have recovered for the victim.

Posted in Premise Liability

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