This case involves a customer at a big box retail store who suffered a number of serious injuries after slipping and falling while shopping in the grocery section of the store. At the time of the accident, a large jar of pickles had fallen onto the floor of one of the aisles, shattering and disbursing a large quantity of liquid on the floor. The spill was not identified by store staff, and evidently remained on the floor for an extended period of time – likely more than an hour. The plaintiff stepped on the liquid while pushing a shopping cart, causing her to slip and fall. The plaintiff struck her head on the side of a shelf, causing a deep gash on her forehead as well as a concussion. The plaintiff claims to have suffered a debilitating brain injury as a result of her fall.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Do you have familiarity with the subject matter described above?
- 2. Have you ever published or lectured on this issue?
- 3. What measures could have been put in place to avoid the accident in question?
Expert Witness Response E-002747
I am very familiar with this subject. Firstly, an hour is a very long time for the contaminant to be on the floor. I would test the friction factor with the contaminant on the floor in question to determine just how much of a fall risk the liquid posed. To avoid incidents like this, store employees should have implemented a proactive inspection program with documentation to identify potential spills within a much shorter time period. Once a spill is identified, best practices dictate that a person should be left at the site until the floor is cleaned and made safe, or alternatively, the area is barricaded from inadvertent traffic and pedestrian risk. It is very dangerous to leave such a large spill unattended.
Expert Witness Response E-004539
I am very well versed on the accident dynamics referenced in the above incident, and I have handled several similar cases involving Walmart, Target, Wegman’s, and Staples. Standard procedure in big box stores such as this would be to conduct hourly, or even more frequent, visual inspections of aisles to make sure that they are free of spills. Furthermore, the store staff would need to be aware of the proper safety procedures in a spill situation and would implement those procedures immediately. It is an industry standard for the area to be roped off to eliminate customer circulation near the spill, and to have an employee watch the area until the spill was eliminated.