Child Slips On Mixed Surface Flooring In Department Store

Flooring ExpertThis case involves a child who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a slip and fall incident in a department store. The child was running in the kitchen and bath section of the store which had combination flooring. From the base of the main aisle inwards approximately 2 feet was ceramic tile. The floor then transitioned to laminate wood and covering the transition gap was a slightly rounded, rubber molding. The rubber molding was only securely glued to the laminate side of the transition point and not the ceramic flooring. As the child was running, their shoe caught the rubber molding causing them to fall forward. The impact of the fall caused the child severe concussion and long-term neurological impairment.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Does a flooring transition at such a high-traffic point constitute an unsafe condition?
  • 2. If the molding deflected up when caught by individuals shoe, does this constitute an unsafe condition?

Expert Witness Response E-004866

I have worked for 40+ years in the flooring arena with both ceramic and wood surfaces. In flooring, it is important to make a safe and visual transition and from one product to another whether or not it is the same or different material. If the molding is not properly installed to have a smooth transition from one product to the next to cover a gap and is too high it defeats the purpose of what it was intended for – safety. If your client tripped on the transition and the height was unreasonable it could constitute negligence. Given what you’ve described, I think you have a case, but I would like to see a photo and a measured height of the transition piece on both sides.

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