Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a defendant grocery store’s claim that it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because it did not have knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The case is important to Washington, D.C. accident victims as well because this type of defense commonly arises in Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accidents.
The plaintiff was at a grocery store shopping for garden supplies when she slipped and fell in one of the store’s aisles. While the plaintiff did not notice anything on the floor initially, when she got up, she noticed that she had stepped in a puddle of water. Neither the plaintiff nor the store employee who came to assist her could locate the source of the water initially, but it was later determined that the water came from a carpet-cleaning machine kiosk.
The kiosk was owned and operated by the company that rented the machines. The agreement between the grocery store and the carpet-cleaning machine rental company allowed for the placement of the kiosk, and in return, the grocery store would be entitled to a share of the revenue brought in by the rentals. While other grocery stores with similar kiosks asked to be trained in how to operate the kiosks, this particular grocery store never asked to receive any training.
After her fall, the plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the grocery store. In response, the grocery store claimed that it could not be held liable because the plaintiff was unable to show that the store had knowledge of the hazard. The trial court agreed with the grocery store and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff then appealed to a higher court.
The Appellate Court’s Decision
On appeal, the case was reversed in favor of the plaintiff. The court explained that, while a plaintiff must establish that the defendant had knowledge of the hazard in a premises liability lawsuit, the defendant should not be able to rely on a lack of knowledge that was a result of its own “failure to educated itself as to foreseeable risks.”
Here, the court noted that a jury very well may determine that the grocery store was negligent in failing to provide training or education to store employees regarding the safe operation of the kiosk and the carpet-cleaning machines. And if the jury made such a finding, the court held, the grocery store could be liable to the plaintiff. Thus, the court explained that the plaintiff’s case should not have been dismissed and that it should proceed to a trial for the jury to make the ultimate determination of whether the store was liable.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience representing victims in all types of claims, including premises liability cases. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney.
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