A South Carolina woman recently won a monumental lawsuit against Walmart alleging negligence on the part of the retail store. Originally filed in 2017, the lawsuit stemmed from an injury that took place in June 2015. While shopping at a Walmart store, the claimant, April Jones, stepped on a rusty nail left on the floor next to some pallets. The nail punctured her shoe and became lodged in her foot. Despite seeking medical treatment, infection followed resulting in the amputation of her toe. Subsequently, the infection spread to Jones’ entire right foot, ultimately resulting in the amputation of her right leg just above the knee. Ms. Jones was awarded $10 million in damages for her medical expenses. As a personal injury lawyer for over two decades, Attorney David Tapalian expertly handles premises liability claims throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
What Responsibility Does a Store Have to its Customers?
In all states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, owners of property must make a reasonable effort to maintain their property to ensure the safety of visitors. A property owner, such as a retail store, is responsible for inspecting the condition of the property on a regular basis, making timely maintenance repairs and making every effort necessary to ensure a safe environment. If the owner fails to do so and is someone is injured on the property, the owner may be held liable for the person’s damages if found negligent.
Property owners owe a “duty of care” to those who are reasonably expected to be on the premises by exercising reasonable care for the safety of these people. (Typically, trespassers have limited rights.) For instance, a commercial retail business such as Walmart welcomes customers into their stores for the purpose of shopping, and therefore, the business owes their customers a duty of care to keep the premises safe.
A retail store may be found negligent and held liable for a person injured on the premises if the store created the danger, knew of the danger and failed to ameliorate it, or if they should have reasonably known of the danger but failed to take the necessary steps to avoid it.
Types of Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability is one of many types of claims that fall under the larger umbrella of personal injury claims. A lawsuit for premises liability holds a property owner responsible for any injuries or damages that occur on the property. The circumstances for this kind of claim encompass a wide range, some common ones are:
- Slip and Falls
- Dog Bites
- Snow and Ice Removal
- Falling Objects
- Swimming Pool Accidents
- Damaged Property, i.e., broken steps, missing handrails
Negligence in a Premises Liability Lawsuit
In this particular lawsuit, it was determined that Walmart owed the claimant a duty of care as a customer of their store and breached this duty of care by failing to keep the premises safe. The store was held responsible for creating the condition- the rusty nail being on the floor of the store- and the fact that staff knew about or should have reasonably known about the condition and fixed it. By failing to do so, the claimant was injured.
Attorneys on behalf of Walmart argued that Ms. Jones “wholly failed to establish that Walmart placed the nail on the floor or that Walmart knew or reasonably should have known of the presence of the nail on the floor.” They also claimed that the type of nail found in the claimant’s foot was too short to fasten pallet boards. The jury disagreed and Ms. Jones was awarded $10 million for her damages.
Monetary awards in a premises liability lawsuit vary widely and some factors that come into play are the extent and severity of the injuries, length of recovery, how they affect the person’s future well-being and opportunity to earn a living, the affect on the person’s quality of life, and expectation of full recovery, amongst other considerations. In the case of April Jones, the lawsuit stated that Ms. Jones has been in a wheelchair for six years, her “daily life was significantly interrupted”, and the pain from her injuries “has resulted in her loss of enjoyment of life and change in her personality, all to the permanent detriment to her health and physical wellbeing”.
Contact a Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer if You’ve Been Hurt
If you, or a loved one, has been injured on someone else’s property due to an owner’s negligence or failure to make repairs, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your losses. Injury Attorney David Tapalian has helped clients all over Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Florida, who have been hurt in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, slip and falls, and work-related accidents, recover money for their damages. If you’ve been hurt due to another person’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills, hospital expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Tapalian Law offers a no-cost, no-obligation review of your claim, and if you hire us, there are no fees until we successfully win money for your case. Call the personal injury experts at Tapalian Law in Providence, RI, at 401-552-5000, or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim and see how we can help you.