Lowe's is a cornerstone company for home improvement needs around the country. With nearly 2,000 stores located nationwide, including 39 in Maryland alone, Lowe's brings in hundreds of thousands of people per year looking to purchase tools, appliances, home decor, and more. Anyone who has walked into a Lowe's before knows how enormous the building is. One Lowe's store has, on average, 116,000 square feet of space. While this allows Lowe's to carry a wide variety of different items, it also increases the company's responsibilities and liabilities. Larger stores require more maintenance and closer monitoring by employees to keep each section of the store safe.Lowe's Slip and Fall Cases
Lowe's can prove to be a potentially dangerous place to shop when there are so many items haphazardly placed around the store, with some being quite large and heavy. Aisles are nearly stacked to the ceiling with different shelves, creating the possibility of something falling and injuring someone. The floors are made out of smooth concrete, which can be extremely slippery. There are other ways someone could possibly get hurt inside Lowe's:
- Tripping on fallen lumber, tiles, or other home improvement items
- Falling over a ladder or merchandise lift
- Tripping over a floor mat not properly placed
- Slipping on rain, snow, or ice located around the entrance of the store
Like any other retail business or store, Lowe's has a legal responsibility to keep their customers safe from potentially hazardous conditions in the store. Unfortunately, many people have suffered an injury due to carelessness, neglect, and failure to follow proper safety procedures.
The majority of personal injury cases against Lowe's are premises liability claims. Although commonly referred to as slip and fall cases, premises liability actually includes a diverse range of injuries and claims against property owners including things such as dog bites or negligent security. Of course with a retail store like Lowe's, most premises liability claims fall under the "slip and fall" category. Slip and fall claims include any situation in which a customer is injured in the store as a result of hazardous conditions on the property (e.g., wet floor, broken escalator, etc.).
To have a valid slip and fall case against a retail company like Lowe's, a plaintiff needs to prove the basic things. First, a plaintiff needs to prove that the store (through its employees) actually knew or should have known about the hazard that resulted in the injury. Second, the plaintiff will also need to show that no one at the store took action to fix the issue.
Timing is another key component of liability. Employees are responsible for cleaning up spills or other hazards within a reasonable amount of time. If the injury occurred mere minutes after the hazard was identified, that may not be enough to indicate neglect. However, if an hour or more had gone by without resolving the problem, there is a higher chance that Lowe's could be at fault.
One of the best pieces of evidence to use in a slip and fall case is video footage. Lowe's has cameras tracking almost every corner of the store and the footage can be used to prove your injury. If you are thinking about going through with a case against Lowe's, it's important to receive the footage as soon as possible as it can possibly be thrown out after an extended period of time.Lowe's Settlements and Verdicts
Below are summaries of verdicts and reported settlements from actual premises liability lawsuits filed against Lowe's around the country.
- Nevada, 2016 $16,430,000 settlement: The plaintiff was in the outdoor garden section of Lowe's when they slipped on a wet surface and were injured. They claimed that as a result of the injury, they suffered from an occipital skull fracture, a subarachnoid hemorrhage, anosmia (loss of smell/taste), moderate traumatic brain injury, post-concussive balance difficulties, cervical facet mediated pain with radiculalgia, post-traumatic headaches and problems with their vision. The plaintiff sued the company for negligently and/or recklessly creating a dangerous condition by allowing the hand-watering of plants rather than the use of the installed irrigation system, which caused the water to run off onto the floor. There was one single cone warning of the water, which the plaintiff believed was not sufficient enough. The defendants denied liability and said the plaintiff was aware of the cone and actually slipped on the cone itself instead of the water. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff with a $16,430,000 reward.
- California, 2016 $3,000,000 settlement: The plaintiff was purchasing a gazebo in the store at a reduced price under the sale's rule that the plaintiff had to disassemble and take the item home the same day. The gazebo's manual required four people to disassemble, but the defendants were understaffed that day and risked safety if they tried to still disassemble it, which was against the defendant's policy. The employees agreed to help anyway, and while unhinging a piece of the product, two heavy steel beams struck the plaintiff in the head. The plaintiff was immediately stunned, unable to see, suffered cognitive changes, and was taken to the emergency room. They was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome and later traumatic brain injury (TBI). The plaintiff claimed the defendants were liable for carelessly going against policy and neglecting the safety risk involved with disassembling the gazebo. The defendants denied liability, claiming that plaintiff was at fault for their own injuries. The defendant did not maintain possession of the merchandise, despite their policies requiring them to do so. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, with a $3,000,000 reward.
- Texas, 2011 $17,500 settlement: The plaintiff entered the defendant's store with their father to shop for appliances. While they were walking through the store, a sink display located above the plaintiff fell and shattered over their right ankle. The plaintiff suffered multiple cuts and lacerations and had to be taken to the hospital for stitches. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was at fault for the accident because the display posed an unreasonable risk of harm that they should have been aware of. They also claimed that Lowe's failed to properly inspect the display and failed to make changes to make it reasonably safe. Lowe's denied the claims and said the display could not have been prevented. The jury believed Lowe's had a duty to properly construct and inspect the display and failed to do so, rewarding the plaintiff with $17,500.
- New Jersey, 2009 $45,000 settlement: The plaintiff went to the defendant's store to purchase a tractor-lawn mower. After purchasing the mower, they also purchased a small rental truck to transport it back to their house. When they brought back the rental truck to the store at the end of the day, the ramp mechanism of the truck detached as the plaintiff stepped onto it. They fell approximately four feet and were physically injured. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Lowe's claiming the employees failed to instruct them on the proper usage of the ramp and failed to warn them about the risks. Lowe's argued against the claim and blamed the injury on the plaintiff's own negligence. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff and rewarded them with $45,000.
- Florida, 2007 $194,000 settlement: The plaintiff acquired a severe infection in their finger that resulted in amputation after being pierced by a rusty concrete wire mesh. The plaintiff contended that the defendant was negligent, failed to properly maintain the premises and failed to remedy or warn of a known dangerous condition. The defendants argued against the claims and blamed the defendant for not seeking medical attention in a reasonable amount of time after having an obvious and open wound. While the plaintiff was found 40% at fault for the incident, they were still rewarded with $194,000.
- Pennsylvania, 2003 $3,000,000 settlement: The plaintiff was walking through an aisle of the store when an employee working from an elevated position above them dropped a plastic pipe on their foot. The plaintiff claimed that as a result of the injury, they suffered from foot, leg and back injuries, nerve damage, bone loss, and circulatory dysfunction. The plaintiff was seeking compensation for past and future medical expenses, emotional distress, wage loss and/or loss of earning capacity. The defendants claimed that the plaintiff actually dropped the pipe on their own foot. The jury did not believe the defendants' claim and rewarded the plaintiff with $3,000,000.
- Florida, 2002 $672,000 settlement: The plaintiff was a landscaper working on construction near the defendant's store. While they were working, an employee threw a tie cleat over a truck filled with lumber and struck the plaintiff in the head. The injury resulted in the plaintiff receiving a traumatic brain injury and became permanently disabled. The defendants agreed to settle for $672,000.
If you have been injured in a Lowe's store, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Miller & Zois for a free consultation at 800-553-8082.