Seven years ago, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in the case of Lanier v. Wal-Mart that the traditional burden of proof on the plaintiff in slip and fall cases was not proper. The court shifted the burden to Wal-Mart and any other establishment where someone falls. One basic premise and reason for the shift of the burden of proof was that it is virtually impossible for a customer to testify that the water or the object was on the floor for minutes or hours before and that the defendant did nothing to remedy the situation. By the same token, it is the establishment that has or should have the knowledge of when an impediment on the floor took place.
Even with witnesses, slip and fall cases have been very difficult to prove. After the Wal-Mart case, there have been fewer and fewer cases litigated because now the establishments are willing to settle, whereas, before that, they were not.
Is a slip and fall case worth more in one of the 120 counties in Kentucky versus another? The answer is yes. Generally, in some counties in Eastern Kentucky, there are more and higher jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs. On the other hand, in Jefferson County, a plaintiff only has about a 1/3 chance of being successful before a jury. Plaintiff and defense lawyers are aware of these facts and take them under consideration in determining what a case is really worth when considering a settlement.