A Suffolk County woman slipped and fell on some spilled liquid in the self-checkout aisle of her local supermarket and injured her knee. After she retained me as her attorney, I completed an investigation and built a case to prove that the supermarket had been negligent in not cleaning up the spilled liquid or closing the checkout aisle. We built a case to prove that the supermarket’s negligence caused the woman to slip and fall and therefore, the supermarket was responsible for her injuries.
Let me share with you the facts of this supermarket slip and fall case and the process that led to the $25,000 settlement.
A Slip and Fall at a Supermarket
The night before a woman was to leave on a trip in Florida, the woman made a last minute stop at the grocery store to pick up a few items for her trip. She entered the self-checkout lane and a store employee told her she would be the last customer in that lane, but did not say why. She processed her few items, paid and began to leave. As she walked, the woman’s her feet slipped out from under her and she fell forward onto both knees, landing on the left knee harder than her right. She reached for part of the counter to pull herself up and her feet slipped out again, this time causing her to bang her right shoulder and arm on the floor.
Two store employees helped the woman get up and escorted her to a chair. The woman noticed that her clothes were covered with a thick, gooey, bluish liquid. The employees tried to wipe the substance off the bottom of her shoes and her clothes. Despite the pain and soreness, she thought she would be okay to go home and she wanted to clean up and rest.
Unfortunately, the pain increased while she was at home and, at 3:00 am, she cancelled her trip to Florida. The next morning, the woman awoke with continued pain in her knee and shoulders. She went to the emergency room. The medical staff took x-rays that found no fracture or dislocation of her shoulder and mild swelling and edema of her left knee. They put a knee brace on her left leg and an ace bandage on my right knee and provided a sling for my right shoulder. The emergency room staff discharged her with a prescription for pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication and a referral to see an orthopedist.
She scheduled an appointment with an orthopedist who diagnosed a contusion in her left knee with some tenderness in both knees. He ordered an MRI exam of her left knee, which revealed a medial meniscus tear with swelling. Based on those results, the orthopedist prescribed physical therapy and ultimately recommended arthroscopic surgery. The case was complicated by the fact that the woman had a prior knee injury from a car accident.
Proving a Supermarket Slip and Fall Case in Suffolk County
In all trip and fall cases, we need to prove two main points:
- That the negligence of a party contributed to the slip and fall
- That the slip and fall caused injury and harm
Juries, particularly those in Suffolk County, frequently side with defendants in slip and fall cases. The prevailing attitude is that people should be careful when walking and if they should fall on ice, well, they should have been more careful. We knew this case was different and had to document the failure of the supermarket to act properly. We investigated the case to support the woman’s claim.
We also had to work hard to document the injuries and the need for compensation. The initial medical evidence did not clearly state the diagnosis and the woman had a previous knee injury. We had to work to clarify the medical evidence and to document the damage caused by this incident.
The Settlement Process
After completing my investigation into this case, I reached out to the defendant to see if the supermarket was interested in resolving the matter through an early settlement. While they expressed some interest, the supermarket needed to see clear evidence of their negligence before they would proceed. After all, no supermarket wants to fall prey to frivolous or questionable negligence claims.
The supermarket then made a settlement offer, but it did not match the fair compensation that I felt my client deserved. I worked with the claims adjuster, my client and my client’s doctors to present the medical evidence to justify the higher settlement amount. We reached the settlement in early December and I have worked with the claims processor to ensure that the woman receives her payment before Christmas.
Getting Medical Treatment with No Insurance
In this case, my client lacked health insurance. When she needed an MRI of her knee, we were able to work with the MIR facility to provide the service in return for a lien against any settlement or court award my client received. This arrangement allowed my client to receive medical care when she needed it most. After settling the case, we were able to negotiate the lien down from $2,800 to $1,200, paying the provider a fair amount and putting more money in my client’s pocket.
What are the results of this case? Any time a client receives a settlement, that settlement can make a difference. I would like to believe that the supermarket management will better instruct staff on how to handle spill situations and that staff will act more promptly to protect customer safety. I negotiated a fair settlement that was much higher than the original settlement offer and managed to reduce the medical lien to maximize the amount of money my client received. While the award will not undo the pain and suffering my client endured due to the incident, a satisfied client is the best result of any case.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a supermarket slip and fall or if you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, you may want to consult a New York personal injury attorney experienced with slip and fall cases. I would be glad to answer your questions and assist you. You can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email me. You can also visit my website or read more on my blog, New York Law Thoughts.
Carol L. Schlitt
New York Personal Injury Attorney
This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney.