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Slip And Fall Lawsuits Not Open And Shut Cases

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If you slip and fall in a grocery store, do you automatically get paid?

A customer at a Kroger grocery store in Georgia slipped and fell on a slippery wet floor, injuring both knees and her wrist. The wrist never healed but instead developed into a disabling pain condition that forced her to quit her job as a hairdresser. She sued Kroger and won almost $2.8 million dollars. Which makes many people consider if they can find themselves a slippery floor somewhere.

Because there are lots of people who think that they might win the lawsuit lottery. Here's the question: if you slip and fall at a store, are you automatically entitled to money?

In order to file a lawsuit, it's not enough to show that you got hurt, you have to show that the other party was negligent. So while a supermarket or other retail store that invites you on the premises to buy their stuff is obligated to make the place safe, you have to show that a reasonably prudent person behaving as you did would be hurt by their negligent action (like not cleaning up a slippery floor).

So if you, for example, decide to reach something on the top shelf by standing in your cart to get it, they'll probably show that you - and not they - were negligent. If you spill something on the floor on purpose to slip on it, they will likely find that you acted fraudulently and they'll sue you.

So the best you can do is know that the law is there to protect you - and also that it's your duty to protect yourself.

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