Home Depot Slip and Fall Claims

Home Depot is the largest home improvement store in the world with a powerful legal team to defend against slip and fall suits. In 2011, Home Depot collected $70.4 billion in revenue. Each of the company's 2,200-plus stores averages more than 100,000 square feet. No matter their size, stores have a duty to maintain safe premises for their customers. Slip and fall cases in a commercial store are examples of premises liability. If a store such as Home Depot fails to take reasonable measures to keep its premises safe, the store could be liable for customer injuries.

What You Need to Prove

If you were injured in a Home Depot store, you may want to investigate whether you can get compensation for your injuries and all other losses associated with the accident. To state a case for slip and fall liability against Home Depot, you must prove the following elements:

  • a dangerous condition existed on the store premises
  • Home Depot either created the danger or failed to reasonably eliminate the risk once it knew or should have known of the danger, and
  • you were injured by the dangerous condition.

Dangerous conditions include wet floors, slippery substances on floors, items falling from overhead shelves, wires that could trip customers, or uneven flooring. If Home Depot created the dangerous condition, such as wet, newly mopped floors, it must either take reasonable steps to warn customers of the danger, or eliminate the danger. This would mean posting a "wet floor" sign or drying the floor before permitting customers to walk in that area. Learn more about proving slip and fall liability.

Did Home Depot Act Reasonably?

Even if you were injured due to a dangerous condition on the premises of a Home Depot store, Home Depot may not be liable if it took reasonable measures to protect its customers. Premises liability law allows stores a reasonable amount of time to discover, warn of, and eliminate dangerous conditions. If another customer spills a drink and you slip on it seconds later, the store likely will not be liable for your injury. However, if store employees let a puddle of grease stand by a checkout line all day and a customer slips, the store likely would be held accountable.

Factors that influence whether the store acted reasonably include:

  • whether the store was conducting regular inspections
  • the amount of time between inspections
  • whether employees should have noticed the danger in the course of their normal activities
  • the amount of time before the danger was discovered
  • whether a warning sign was placed in the area, and
  • the amount of time before the danger was eliminated.

Were Your Actions Reasonable?

Many slip and fall claimants lose their cases because the defendant store convinces the court that the customers were hurt because of their own carelessness. If you were injured in a slip and fall, it is important to show that the injury was through no fault of your own. If a court finds that you are partially at fault for your injury, your recovery could be reduced or eliminated.

One of the most difficult issues for plaintiffs in a slip and fall case is whether they noticed the puddle or other danger before they were injured. If the plaintiff did see it, Home Depot will claim that the customer acted unreasonably by not avoiding the danger. If the plaintiff did not notice the danger until it was too late, the home improvement store will claim that the plaintiff was not acting with reasonable care. Specifically, Home Depot may allege that you were to blame for your injury if:

  • the danger was so obvious that a reasonable person would have avoided it
  • you ignored posted warning signs
  • you were in an area of the store that was off-limits to customers, or
  • you were intoxicated or otherwise acting inappropriately.

Notable Cases Against Home Depot

In the 2011 case Baynes v. Home Depot, a woman sued after slipping on an unknown substance in the home improvement store. When the woman demanded that Home Depot produce the video surveillance of the store from that day, Home Depot stated that the relevant part of that day's surveillance had been deleted. Despite the lack of video evidence, the court found for the slip and fall victim and ordered Home Depot to pay $44,383.61 for her injury.

In the famous 2002 Hartner v. Home Depot case, a woman injured her knee when her shopping cart tipped over after hitting a manhole cover obscured by water. Home Depot argued that the plaintiff was to blame for her injuries because the danger was open and obvious. The jury disagreed and found that Home Depot was 95% at fault. After the jury determined the amount of damages to be $1,000,000.00, the court ordered Home Depot to pay $950,000 for the woman's injuries. Although the case was later remanded for a redetermination of damages, it remains an important example of slip and fall liability and recovery against Home Depot.

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