Fell on wet floor and broke fibula...

by Peter

We were at a restaurant in Tennessee. My wife walked in while I parked the car. That day it had been raining, but the rain had stopped. My wife upon walking into the main entrance walked past the hostess station to go to our group's table.

Her first step off the rain mat she fell and broke her Fibula. There were no signs of "wet floor" and the rain mats were only up to the waxed wooden floor. We have statements from others at the restaurant who had also slipped. Is the restaurant liable? Do we have a valid case? Should we contact an attorney? Thank you.

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ANSWER for "Fell on wet floor and broke fibula...":

Peter (Arizona):

From the facts you present, the restaurant appears to be liable for your wife's injuries. Restaurants, like other businesses which cater to consumers, operate under the legal doctrine of premises liability. Restaurants have a legal duty to do everything within reason to make sure the property is safe for patrons and others who are legally upon the property.

To get a better understanding of who's liable, read this article on the duties of property owners and visitors.

In your case, the restaurant management had to know it was raining and that patrons coming into the restaurant were bringing with them rain water, mud, rocks and other debris stirred up by the rain. Management should have placed cautionary signs around the area, and had an employee clean up the water as the patrons entered.

It's likely at the time your wife slipped and fell, management completed what is generally referred to as an Incident Report. In that report may be a report of the fall, the time and date it occurred, the manager on duty, and other pertinent information.

Incident reports, especially for larger companies (including restaurant chains) are required for company documentation and for insurance purposes. It's unlikely the restaurant's management will give you or your wife a copy of the incident report. Nevertheless, in the event they refuse to give you a copy, one can be subpoenaed by your attorney if you choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

A fractured fibula certainly qualifies as a serious injury. Because of the seriousness of your wife's injury, you would be well-advised to seek legal counsel. Without an attorney, the restaurant's insurance company may deny your wife's claim.

Or if they agree to compensate your wife, they may only agree to pay some of her medical bills, and nothing else. If they agree to pay any amount, you can be sure whatever they offer will be much less than your wife deserves. That's their mantra. Doing so keeps the insurance company's profits high and shareholders happy.

Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for initial office consultations. When you find an attorney to accept the case, he or she will not charge you any legal fees until and unless the attorney wins the case at trial or settles it outside of court. Then the attorney's fee will likely be 1/3rd of the gross settlement or court award.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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