Imagine it: you’re walking down an aisle in a store when, from nowhere, an object from above crashes down and slams into you, causing you serious harm. At that point, you’re probably wondering, “What do I do and where do I turn now?”
You undeniably know you’re hurt and know that you need compensation to cover things like medical expenses and the time you miss from work, but do you know how to go about getting it? Do you know how your case is similar to, but also different from, tackling a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall case? Probably not, as these are detailed and nuanced areas of law that even most educated and sophisticated non-lawyers reasonably don’t know. Your experienced Louisiana injury attorney, however, will know exactly how to guide you through the process of pursuing your falling merchandise case.
E.C.’s was an example of this kind of case. Reportedly, E.C. was shopping inside a sporting goods store in Gretna when an object from above her head fell down onto her, causing her to suffer harm to “her muscular, skeletal and nervous systems.” An injury like E.C.’s is one that, with the right evidence, may lead to a judgment and compensation. One of the most important aspects of a successful case in a situation like this is identifying the correct statute for your lawsuit. Correct identification may mean a different evidentiary hurdle for you to clear and may shift a different degree of evidentiary obligation to the store.
Louisiana law requires all stores and shops to “use reasonable care to keep its aisles, passageways and floors in a reasonably safe condition and free of hazards which may cause injury.” In a Louisiana falling merchandise case, you (as the injured store guest) are required to show that a hazard on the premises existed. Even just having circumstantial evidence of that hazard may be enough. You also have to show that you didn’t cause the object to fall and that another shopper didn’t cause it to fall.
Once you have made your required evidentiary demonstrations to the court, the law requires the merchant to prove it wasn’t at fault by providing evidence that it was reasonably careful to avoid those hazards by specific means. This can mean proof of things like periodic cleanings and inspections.
E.C. alleged that she was hit in the face by a shelf as a result of store employee doing a shelf change. A store employee stated that he was on a ladder and that the injured shopper was hit in the face by a cardboard “Back to School” sign, not a shelf. Regardless of whether the injury-causing object was a shelf or a sign, E.C.’s evidence was sufficient to show that she didn’t make the object fall (and neither did anyone else not employed by the store) and that the falling object was the cause of her accident. That was all she needed to shift the burden to the store to prove that it had procedures that showed the use of reasonable care to prevent such premises hazards.
Because the store rested its case without presenting any evidence, this store did not meet its burden and the $49,000 judgment for the shopper was entitled to stand.
Each case is unique in some ways, and each case can benefit from the in-depth knowledge that comes with having an advocate who has “been there” before. For your injury lawsuit, contact the Cardone Law Firm and our highly experienced Louisiana injury attorneys. We have decades of experience handling a wide array of falling merchandise cases, trip-and-fall cases, slip-and-fall cases and more.
For your confidential consultation contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.