Slip and Fall Settlement Details
The LAW TEAM settled a case for $100,000 for a Bronx woman who slipped and fell at a department store in Harlem. She sustained a hairline fracture of the radius, and a tear of the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC). She slipped on water inside of the store, near the cash register.
The hardest part of any slip and fall case is proving notice. The law for slip and fall cases in New York says that a property owner or property manager is not responsible for every conceivable hazardous condition that could occur, only what is “reasonable.”
Did the store know of the dangerous condition? Was it there for a period of time long enough that they should have known about it through regular inspection? How can you prove that there was negligence in a slip and fall accident case?
Strangely enough, the store’s lawyers said there was no video of the incident. This seemed very suspicious as there were many cameras throughout the store, especially near the cash register. Fortunately, the client took pictures of the puddle that she slipped on.
The pictures showed that the puddle was dirty, brown, and had streaks near it. The puddle even dirty footprints surrounding it. This showed that the puddle was not fresh but had been there for some period of time.
Where did the puddle come from? It had been raining that day. A store is not required to put mats out everywhere and make sure that the floor is completely dry. We argued that it would have been reasonable for the store to take some basic precautions such as putting out mats near the entrance of the store and providing plastic coverings for customers to use on their umbrellas.
The store did not have sufficient mats and did not provide any way for the customers to cover or store their umbrellas. This created a situation where customers were carrying around wet umbrellas that dripped water throughout the store.
Another way we gathered evidence of negligence was through a deposition of the store manager. A deposition is a pre-trial question and answer session, where a witness has to answer questions under oath. The store manager testified that there was a protocol for how often the floors had to be mopped in rainy weather. However, he had no logbook or any record of when the floors were mopped, and who mopped them.
With all of this evidence, we felt we had a solid case to prove that the store had constructive notice of the slippery condition. Nonetheless, lawyers for the store’s insurance company filed a motion, a written request to the Judge in Bronx County, requesting that the case be dismissed for lack of notice.
While the motion was pending, the insurance company started making offers. The first few were rejected, but the case ultimately settled for $100,000. Once a motion to dismiss has been made, there is always a chance that the entire case could be thrown out. We did not want to risk this, so we agreed to settle.