The camera doesn’t lie, but sometimes the claims department does!

A few years ago, I represented a very nice lady who had a serious injury when she fell at a local “big box” store. There was a slick white substance on a white floor, which she didn’t see, causing her to lose footing and fall hard, resulting in a serious back and hip injury.

When we contacted the store’s claims department, we were told that they would research the incident and report back. Sometime later, we were informed that there was a video showing an unknown customer opening a bottle of fabric softer, but failing to tightly reseal the cap, allowing the fabric softer to spill on the floor. Six minutes later, according to claims representative, my client walked through the spill, slipped, fell, and injured herself. When I asked to be allowed to see the video, I was told that it was against store policy. I was assured that the store was not responsible because the spill was due to the fault of the unknown customer.

Rather than accept the word of the claims representative, we filed suit and forced the production of the video. When the video was reviewed, we found that the claims representative was telling the truth, but not the whole truth. She correctly stated that an unnamed customer opened the fabric softer and allowed it to spill and that six minutes later my client fell. What she didn’t state was that, in those six minutes, approximately ten store employees walked through the spill, taking no action. The case was settled.

What should you do in the event of a fall?

If you are injured, get medical help.

If you have your phone or a camera, take some quick pictures of the area where you fell.

If there is something slick on the floor, try to make it visible in the photograph.

Get the names of any witnesses, either employees of the store or customers. If you don’t get the name or phone number of a customer, it is very difficult to find them later.