A Miami jury split the fault in a Miami premises liability personal injury case involving a shopping cart. The plaintiff claimed Home Depot was negligent because it allowed a threshold to exist which caught a shopping cart the plaintiff was pushing. When the cart got stuck, it jerked back and struck the plaintiff . He seriously injured his neck and back as well as his shoulder. The jury awarded approximately $328,000 which was reduced by the 50/50 finding of the jury.
Generally, a property owner owes two duties to an invitee. First it owes the duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition. Second, the property owner has the duty to warn of concealed or latent hazards or dangers which the owner knows about, or should have known about. The hidden dangers must also be unknown to the invitee. Finally the concealed hazard is not discoverable through the exercise of due care. A property’s owner may be discharged of the duty to warn when the hazard is open and obvious. But even with open and obvious hazards the landowner continues to have the duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition.
The injured plaintiff must generally prove that the property owner had constructive or actual notice of the dangerous condition. A property owner, like Home Depot, can be held liable for injuries and damages if the hazardous condition existed for a sufficient period of time to charge the premises owner with constructive knowledge. Constructive knowledge can be inferred, or assessed, if a hazardous condition existed for long enough that in the exercise of reasonable care the concealed or latent hazard should have been known to the premises owner.
In our analysis, the case against Home Depot was strong enough to get to a jury. If it wasn’t, one would have expected Home Depot to escape from the lawsuit by way of a summary judgment by the court. When the court grants a summary judgment, that means that even accepting all the evidence in the most favorable light to the non-moving party that there is no reasonable way that recovery can be had under the law. The fact that this case was decided by a jury indicates that there were fact issues for the jury to decide.
As for the verdict, the plaintiff did get a verdict for $164,000 which is significant in and of itself. Juries can be very hard on plaintiffs with personal injuries, especially with a well known defendant like Home Depot. In a civil case involving personal injuries arising out of a premises liability case, the jury is supposed to decide the case according to the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence. It is called the burden of proof. In other words, was the plaintiff more right than wrong in proving their case. All too often juries will hold a plaintiff to a higher standard and as a result, the plaintiff will lose even when they proved their case by a preponderance of the evidence. In the Home Depot case, the defense charged that the plaintiff was also at fault in what is called comparative negligence which allows the jury to decide a case on a percentage basis of fault. In this case, the jury “split the baby” by finding each side 50% at fault.
At Wolfson & Leon, our Miami premises liability attorneys can help you proceed to pursue financial compensation from any responsible property owner, retail store, dining establishment or public agency who might be responsible for your injury. Call us at 305-285-1115 to set up a free consultation with a Miami slip and fall accident attorney. Wolfson & Leon in Miami has been helping personal injury clients and the families of wrongful death victims for over 60 years. Jonah Wolfson is a bilingual personal injury attorney in Miami and is available to speak to you now.
Wolfson & Leon also represents premises liability accident victims in Hialeah Gardens, Coconut Grove, Miami Gardens, Wellington, Allapattah, Hollywood, The Roads, Flamingo Park, Kendale Lakes, Westchester, Riverside, Tamarac, Plantation and other cities throughout South Florida.