Wet Wal-Mart Floor Blamed for Nebraska (NE) Woman's Fatal Brain Injury | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Julie Lehman never returned home from a July 21 trip to her local Wal-Mart in Chadron, Nebraska (NE). Visiting the store with her 17-year-old son Steffan, Lehman slipped on a wet patch of floor near the restrooms, suffered a serious brain injury when hitting her head after falling and died a short time later from a massive blood clot in her brain despite being airlifted to an emergency surgical center.

Lehman’s widowed husband, David, has filed suit against Wal-Mart for being negligent in maintaining a safe store, failing to warn customers about a spill that had not been mopped up and not installing slip-resistant flooring.

Stores, restaurants, public buildings and office buildings have to keep their floors dry, level and in good repair. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued an array of standards and guidelines for keeping walking and working surfaces safe. The National Floor Safety Institute has programs for inspecting floor installation and maintenance. When businesses and other places where visitors and workers walk ignore floor safety, people get hurt–sometimes seriously.

The National Safety Council has determined that slips and fall are the second-leading cause of accidental death in the United Sates. While slightly more than half of falls that result in injury occur at home, workers and customers injured at grocery or department stores are more likely to be the victims of slips and falls than of any other problem.

One of the legal issues that arises in Virginia (VA), North Carolina (NC) or any trip or fall cases is whether the injured person did something that contributed to cause his or her injury. This is often called “contributory” negligence or fault.  In Virginia and North Carolina, any contributory fault that is determined to be a cause of the trip or fall bars any recovery at all. Secondarily, in any slip, trip or fall case, the injured person (often with his or her attorney’s help) must show that the business or premise owner “knew or should have known” of the dangerous condition while following proper business practices. These two variables make slip, trip and fall cases very challenging and are good reasons to seek legal assistance very promptly after any serious injury involving a trip or fall.

My colleagues and I have represent many victims of slips and falls caused by unsafe flooring and inadequate workplace protections. The pain, medical bills and lost wages that result from slip, trip and fall injuries can be devastating. My condolences go out to the Lehman family, as well as my hope that they can recover from this tragedy both emotionally and financially.