Visitor Question

Am I entitled compensation for this injury at Home Depot?

Submitted By: Misty (Orange County, California)

I was walking with a propane cylinder up to the store front of Home Depot. A 2×4 with a large rusty nail on the end was on the ground sticking out from under a wooden patio table display, into the walkway area. I tripped on the wood and the nail went into my foot and ripped the under piece of my pinky toe.

I haven’t yet had medical treatment. I clean and bandaged the wound on site, but it might need a stitch. Am I entitled to any compensation? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Misty,

The legal issued involved in your case is Premises Liability. This refers to the legal “duty of care” a landowner has to persons who enter upon the landowner’s property.

There are two basic categories of persons who are protected under premises liability. They are an “Invitee” and “Licensee.” A third is a Trespasser. For purposes of your question, we will look at the first two categories.

A person who enters upon the property of a landowner by overt or implied invitation to purchase, or consider purchasing goods or services from the landowner would be an Invitee.

For example, you went to Home Depot for the apparent purpose of purchasing a propane cylinder. You likely went to Home Deport because you saw an advertisement to shop there, which is considered an overt invitation, or you shopped at Home Depot before, or had been told about Home Depot by a friend, etc., which is considered  an implied invitation.

The landowner’s legal duty to an invitee is to do whatever is reasonable to keep the invitee safe from harm. This means the landowner must be aware of impending dangers and exercise care in reducing or eliminating these dangers. In your case, it would be making sure there were no rusty nails sticking out from under a wooden patio display.

A Licensee is a person who enters upon a landowner’s property not to purchase goods or services, but instead as a social guest. For example, a few friends invited over to your home to a barbecue or birthday party.

A landowner’s legal duty of care to a licensee is to not willfully or wantonly injure the licensee, or to be grossly negligent by not warning the licensee of dangers the landowner is aware of. At a minimum, the landowner must make the licensee aware of any hazardous conditions so the licensee can exercise caution.

In your case, it appears Home Depot breached their legal duty of care. As a result, they should be obligated to compensate you for your damages. Damages can be your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for bandages, etc.), your lost wages, and an amount for your pain and suffering.

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

Best of luck,


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