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Slip and Fall Accident Reaches Idaho’s Supreme Court

A slip and fall accident has made its way to the Idaho Supreme Court, according to the Idaho Statesman.

In July 2013, Diane Brooks visited the Overland Road Walmart store in Boise to buy some wood chips. As she made her way through the store to the garden area, she slipped on a puddle of water and fell. The incident injured her left knee seriously enough to warrant surgery.

Now, years later, her slip and fall case against Walmart has made it to the Idaho Supreme Court, and justices ruled that the case must be reviewed again by the lower court.

Responsibility for the puddle remains unclear.

In 2011, Walmart signed an agreement with Rug Doctor to put some of its carpet cleaner rental stations in its Walmart stores. These kiosks are completely self-serve, so Walmart employees don’t run them or help customers with them at all. The puddle that Brooks slipped on was right by one of these unsupervised carpet cleaner kiosks.

A surveillance video showed exactly what happened that day at the Walmart store. About seven minutes before Brooks had her accident, a Walmart customer rented one of those machines from the self-serve kiosk, and they tilted the machine back and forth as they put it into their cart.

Brooks decided to file a personal injury claim against Walmart in November of 2014, around 16 months after her accident. In her lawsuit, she alleged Walmart behaved negligently, and a year later, she added Rug Doctor as a defendant and alleged they were negligent as well.

Both firms asked the court to dismiss her case, stating the allegations had been based on speculation rather than evidence. At that time, the court opted to dismiss the complaint against Walmart. They did, however, refuse to dismiss the claim against Rug Doctor because its machines could spill or leak water, and the question in the case was whether Rug Doctor should have taken action to prevent the creation of a hazard like a puddle.

Brooks fought this ruling to the Supreme Court in the state, and four out of the five court justices sided with her, saying there were still questions about what had happened and whether Walmart should shoulder blame. They directed a review of her case by the lower court in the matter. In their opinion, they stated that Walmart may be at fault for ignoring the fact that carpet cleaners are not like other kiosks that can be left alone and not cause a hazard since carpet machines can come back with water inside that can spill or leak.

Recent court retiree Justice Warren Jones was the dissenting opinion in the case, saying that anything inside a store can be held as “self-service” and that stores are full of people who may leave hazards around or spill something.

A simple slip and fall can have serious consequences for the victim, as occurred in the case of Diane Brooks. If you’ve been hurt in a slip and fall accident, speak to an attorney, like a Denver personal injury lawyer, about your case.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Office of Richard Banta, P.C. for their insight into slip and fall cases.

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