It turns out that some of our readers are interested in more substantive posts than ones about celebrity courtroom drama.
We know this because our posts are still outranked on Google by AllLaw.com, which is a tad frustrating since theirs provide bland, unspecific explanations (and zero toilet humor).
For example, take their article entitled: What You Must Prove to Win a Slip and Fall Injury Claim. It includes a number of legal questions you “need” to address before filing a suit, even though countless cases have clearly made it to court without the interested parties having done so.
So, to prove that we have a little more to offer than AllLaw.com and its double talk, let’s dispel 4 myths about personal injury lawsuits and provide a bit of evidence to back up our claims.
Myth #1: If there was reasonable justification for the slipping hazard at the time of the slip or fall, you don’t have a case
Certain businesses are inherently dangerous. When this is the case, liability suits hinge on whether steps were taken to minimize risk as much as possible. Zoos, for example, are a common target of slip and fall lawsuits because of wet surfaces and uneven walkways.
If you were injured because a zoo employee failed to place signage on a slippery surface, you’d have a cut-and-dried case. But when Allecyn Edwards visited Brookfield Zoo’s Seven Seas Dolphin Show and received a free poncho and a warning about getting wet, our more unimaginative colleagues were certain she’d never be able to prove that the property owners failed to do their best to prevent her fall.
Allecyn’s first suit claimed, “the zoo recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged its dolphins to throw water at the spectators, making the floor wet and slippery." In a follow up case, she added algae to the list of offenders.
Despite a crystal clear justification for the hazard (no water = no dolphin show) and warnings about said hazards, Allecyn received a $15k settlement.
Myth #2: If the property owner or employee routinely checked for potential hazards on the property, you don’t have a case
Let’s say you pull into your local Chevron station and get out of your car. During your walk to the cashier, you step on a slab of loose concrete that causes you to lose your balance and fall. If you can prove that Chevron neglected to inspect its facilities, or even worse, knew about the unsafe environment in advance, you’d have yourself a strong slip-and-fall case.
However, and you'll have to excuse our legal jargon, this is subject to the loosey-goosey “reasonable person” test: Any reasonable business owner or employee would consider shaky ground dangerous, and would therefore be responsible for fixing it.
Are there limits to this test? Absolutely, as evidenced by an ill-advised slip and fall claim from Twyla M.:
“While plaintiff was filling her car with gas from defendant’s gas station, she became entangled in the fuel dispensing hose and fell.”
No reasonable gas station owner or attendant would show up to work, Big Gulp in hand, and think, “Oh no! What if Twirling Twyla shows up today? I should neglect decades of pump safety and invent a totally new fuel delivery system to prevent her from hurting herself.”
It’s highly unlikely Twyla won this case, but regular safety checks from gas station attendants didn’t keep her from making it.
Myth #3: If there was enough time for the reasonable person to eliminate the slipping hazard, and they did not, your case is a sure thing
Let’s consider another hypothetical situation: You head to the mall for a Cinnabon. Whilst inhaling whatever diabetes delight is on special this month, a dangerous animal leaps out of a nearby smattering of plastic trees and latches onto your leg. As you kick and scream and flee, you fall and injure yourself.
How long had the animal been there? If it’s only a few minutes, you can’t reasonably assume the property owner had time to handle the situation. But if the animal had been there for hours or even days, that’s negligent.
Don’t like our unlikely example? Too bad. Replace “dangerous animal” with “squirrel” and you’ve got yourself a real case filed in Cook County, Illinois.
Marcy Meckler sued the Old Orchard shopping center in Skokie for $50,000 based on the fact that the property owners not only knew about the adorable tennant long before it attacked her, they encouraged its presence with food and care in spite of previous incidents.
The court threw out her case despite property owners having ample time and knowledge to address the issue.
Myth #4: If the hazard was not moved, marked with a warning, or blocked off, your case is a sure thing
So, now you’re presented with a situation where a person of authority has noticed a hazard that has no reason to exist. Those in charge are addressing the issue, but in the interim the environment is still hazardous and nothing has been done to mark it as such. Can you still sue for negligence?
To answer that, we’re heading to an Arby's bathroom in Monument, Colorado.
On May 28, 2010, Kenneth DeJoie entered the establishment’s men’s room to use what looked to be a normal urinal. In the course of his bathroom visit, “a jet of steam shot forth from the urinal and burned [Kenneth’s] genitals.”
How does this relate to Myth #4? Let’s pull another quote from the case, “[Kenneth] reported the incident to an employee who responded "oh, we have that bathroom problem again. This happens when the sink in the kitchen is running."
So, yea, the stellar staff at this particular Arby’s already knew their bathroom was scalding patrons’ genitals, but decided to keep playing Russian Roulette with the kitchen sink.
Based on the limited information we have, we don’t know the outcome of Mr. DeJoie’s lawsuit. But as we learned in the case of Walmart’s Perilous Pickled Pepper, countless other factors -- such as contradictory testimonies -- can derail even the most ironclad arguments.
There’s a better way to get reliable legal advice
We’re churning out four smart, mature, and informative posts every month, but we’ll be the first to admit that legal advice should not come from a blog article.
If you want to know what sort of chances your personal injury case has, skip the Google search and schedule a free case evaluation with our team!