Costco Sued Over Slip And Fall Accident
Costco has been named in a lawsuit alongside another defendant, a contractor, who was supplying free samples to Costco customers. According to the complaint, the contractor created a hazardous condition on the floor that resulted in a customer slipping and sustaining injuries. A surveillance video shows two of the contractor’s employees walking past a spill on the floor. Seven minutes later, the plaintiff walked past and fell flat on her back.
The contractor maintains that they do not have a duty of care to ensure the cleanliness of Costco’s floors. Costco claims that it did not contribute negligence to the situation.
Costco and the contractor had a contract that stipulated the contractor must maintain the areas within 12 feet of their table. However, the slip and fall occurred 17 feet away from the table. A trial court granted the contractor’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that it did not owe a duty of care to the customer.
On appeal, the appeals court reinstated the cause of action determining that the fact that two of the contractor’s employees walked past the slip hazard prior to the injury created a breach in the duty of care. The employees would have, at the bare minimum, been required to alert Costco employees of the hazardous condition and never did. Without rendering a decision on whether negligence occurred, the court remanded the matter back to the trial court stating that whether there was a breach in the duty of care was a matter for the jury to decide.
Who is more liable?
Every property owner owes a duty of care to those who are invited onto their property. However, what happens if a customer comes into the store, creates a major slipping hazard, and someone is injured? A determination would be made as to whether or not any employee knew about the slip hazard prior to the injury. Costco will contend that its employees were unaware of the slip hazard and are thus not liable on that basis. This is one of the most popular defenses in slip and fall lawsuits. To establish liability, a plaintiff must show that the proprietor knew about the hazard and did nothing about it. Costco’s defense of the issue is much stronger, therefore than the contractor’s.
Further, the agreement between Costco and the contractor may allocate liability to Costco in the case of an injury, but it will never override the law when it comes to civil responsibility. So even if Costco and the contractor had a contract limiting the liability of the contractor, the contractor can still be named in the lawsuit as being the direct or proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, they have to face the claim even if they don’t pay.
Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured due to a slip and fall hazard, you may be able to recover damages related to your injuries. Call the Tampa personal injury lawyers at The Matassini Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your options immediately.