Customers of retail and food service establishments expect to remain safe during their shopping and dining experiences. They presume that facility owners will take appropriate measures to prevent a slip-and-fall incident, object strikes and other injuries. This is not always the case, however, as demonstrated by a recent California ruling against merchandising giant Costco.
The 58-year-old woman was awarded more than $400,000 after a jury trial in California concluded early this month. She was injured while dining in the Costco snack bar. As she was walking through the area, she slipped on some soap and shattered her kneecap. The woman's attorneys say that multiple employees recognized the spill, but none of them followed procedure by stopping to clean it up. Costco representatives did not give a statement about the case.
The woman has undergone one surgery to reconstruct her kneecap, but she faces additional operations and physical therapy to fully repair the damage. She received nearly $90,000 to cover her current and future medical needs, along with $325,000 for pain and suffering. The jury's decision was unanimous.
The woman's attorneys say that she has experienced loss of mobility and function as a result of the accident, and she is in chronic pain. The long-term effects of this injury are likely to have a significant impact on the rest of the woman's life, but the money she received in the suit should cover future medical expenses. The source of the soap spill remains unknown, although the woman's attorneys speculate that it leaked from another customer's shopping cart.
Even though some people frown upon lawsuits alleging injury in business environments, it is important to realize that the injuries are often legitimate and serious for victims. Medical bills can quickly add up even if the victim has insurance, and many of the injuries are caused by business owners' negligence.
Source: Pasadena Star-News, "Covina woman awarded $415,000 following slip and fall at Industry Costco," March 7, 2012
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