Slip and Fall: Examples of Cases, Verdicts and Settlements

Slip and fall liability can be difficult to establish. (See: Slip and Fall Injury: Proving Your Case). Below is a sampling of slip and fall cases in which plaintiffs have been both successful and unsuccessful in proving their claims. Bear in mind that the facts and circumstances of your own case may be very different. You should discuss your particular claim with a competent attorney.

Examples Of Damages

These two cases allege damages that you might not expect in a slip and fall claim:

  • Plaintiff slipped and fell on a liquid substance on the floor of a supermarket. At trial, both plaintiff and his wife testified that plaintiff had become depressed and had experienced suicidal tendencies as a result of the debilitating pain allegedly attributable to his injuries. Several witnesses testified that plaintiff had undergone a gross personality change since the accident and a psychologists’ report linked plaintiff’s depression to his injuries. Further, plaintiff sought to establish that, due to his pain and injury, his physical activity had been reduced to such an extent that he gained excessive amounts of weight. As a result, he required a surgical procedure known as gastroplasty which involves a stapling of the stomach to induce weight loss. The jury found plaintiff and defendant each 50% liable and awarded damages of $70,000 to plaintiff and $9,000 to plaintiff’s wife. On appeal, the parties agreed to reduce the damages to $40,000 and $6,000 respectively.
  • Plaintiff, a Virginia resident, slipped and fell in puddle caused by a leaky awning at the entrance to a gas station convenience store. She fell forward, lost consciousness, and later suffered seizures and post-concussion syndrome. Prior to the accident, plaintiff had been a highly successful businesswoman. Afterward, she found she could no longer do her job because she had lost the ability to multitask. A jury awarded plaintiff $12.2 million, the highest ever slip and fall verdict in that state’s history.

Issues of Proof

These cases show how tricky it can be to prove a slip and fall claim:

  • Plaintiff was touring a State University of New York campus when she slipped and fell while walking on a sloping concrete walkway. She claimed that she did not see the icy condition of the walkway until her feet had gone out from under her and she had fallen backward. She alleged the defendant failed to properly maintain the area, creating a dangerous condition. Defendant claimed that, due to a previous snowfall, he had performed snow and ice removal and had put down calcium chloride, a melting agent. Defendant further claimed that prior to plaintiff’s fall, there had only been wetness on the pavement. After trial, plaintiff’s claim was dismissed. The judge determined that, although ice was the cause of claimant’s slip and fall, plaintiff had failed to prove the dimensions of the icy patch or the length of time the condition had existed prior to her fall. The judge further noted that a landowner’s failure to remove every patch of ice and snow from a walkway does not constitute negligence if he has received no complaints about the condition. Finally, although plaintiff’s fall was unfortunate, the measures taken by defendant to remove snow and ice were reasonable under the circumstances and were not required to be perfect.
  • Plaintiff fell on a wet marble floor in the lobby of her place of work. In dismissing the claim, the court held that property owners are not required to provide a constant remedy when water is tracked into a building during rainy weather, nor do they continually have to mop up all water tracked in or even provide floor mats on wet days.

Examples Of Successful Claims

In the following cases, plaintiffs were successful in proving their slip and fall claims:

  • A 53 year-old computer operator suffered an ankle fracture and other injuries requiring hospitalization when she slipped and fell during a lunch break while attending computer classes. The puddle was located on the patio of defendant’s premises. The plaintiff contended that the poor condition of the patio was the cause of the accident and her injuries. After trial, the parties settled the lawsuit for $125,000.
  • Plaintiff was walking on the southbound IRT #2 train platform in the Bronx when she fell on a patch of ice, sustaining injury and medical expenses. The platform was owned and maintained by the New York City Transit Authority. Plaintiff alleged that defendant had been negligent in allowing a dangerous condition to exist by allowing ice to accumulate on the platform and failing to remove it. At trial, the jury unanimously found the defendant negligent and awarded plaintiff $150,000 for past pain and suffering and $500,000 for future pain and suffering.
  • Plaintiff was a patron at defendant’s restaurant when, while walking to her table near the service area of the bar, she slipped and fell on a liquid substance. Plaintiff asserted the defendants were negligent in allowing the bar area contain a hazardous condition and in failing to post warning signs or take reasonable steps to correct the condition. Plaintiff sought damages for her injuries and medical expenses. Defendants argued that plaintiff had failed to establish their actual or constructive notice that the dangerous condition existed. Nevertheless, plaintiff was awarded damages for medical expenses and past and future suffering as well as for loss of enjoyment of life up to the date of the verdict in the total amount of $160,665.
  • A 39 year-old nurse’s aide slipped and fell on ice that had accumulated in front of defendant city’s hospital. She suffered an ankle fracture that resulted in residual swelling, scarring and difficulty walking. Plaintiff argued that defendant had been negligent in clearing away the snow and had allowed it to melt and refreeze, creating a slip and fall hazard. Defendant claimed that it had properly cleared the snow and that plaintiff was negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout. Plaintiff was awarded $595,000 in damages.

Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you determine whether the facts in your slip and fall or other premises liability case are likely to result in a successful claim for damages.

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Premises Security Litigation: A Growing Field of Personal Injury Practice

In 1974, the singer Connie Francis was raped at knifepoint in a Westbury, Long Island Howard Johnson’s Motel room. She was hospitalized for 4 days and suffered recurring nightmares thereafter. The assailant had gained entry to her room through a defective sliding door. Even in a locked position, the motel’s sliding doors could easily be jiggled open from the outside. In a highly publicized 1976 trial, a jury awarded Francis $2.5 million in damages. At the time, it was one of the largest awards ever made in a rape case. When the decision was overturned on appeal, the lawsuit was eventually settled for $1.8 million.

In 1991, an apartment manager in Corpus Christi, Texas was found liable for $17 million after a building resident was raped. Although the resident had specifically requested a door lock that could only be opened from the inside, management refused, citing its need to gain access to all units. Six months later, the assailant broke into the management office, selected his victim from the apartment complex files, and took a key from a board where apartment keys were hanging. Also in 1991, a Ft. Worth Motel 6 settled a $10 million lawsuit for rape. Despite an ad campaign touting the motel chain’s reputation for safety, management failed to provide nightly security guards as promised. According to the deposition of a former Motel 6 security executive, the chain had averaged a rape a month from 1987-1990.

Negligent Security Claims Are Growing

Hotels and motels often conceal the amount of crime occurring on their premises, and these incidents are not widely reported. But although premises security litigation was quite rare in 1974, it is now among the fastest growing areas in personal injury practice. In fact, claims alleging faulty security are beginning to rival general negligence and slip and fall cases as the most common causes of action against residential landlords and property owners. Over the past decade, the average verdict in favor of plaintiffs against landlords was over $1 million for assault victims, $1.8 million for rape victims, and $2.1 million in favor of an estate for a wrongful death action. The average settlement amount in premises security lawsuits is an astonishing $500,000.

Victims of inadequate premises security are no longer willing to rely on the criminal justice system as their sole recourse. In turn, civil courts are demonstrating greater flexibility in permitting lawsuits based not only on negligence, but on grounds like breach of warranty and consumer fraud. Where criminal acts are committed by building employees against residents, an increasingly common legal theory is negligent hiring and retention, i.e. failure by employers to do thorough background checks of potential employees.

About Premises Security Ligitation

Property managers, landlords, security companies and colleges are frequent targets of premises security litigation. Among the most likely venues for crimes leading to such lawsuits are parking lots, apartments, retail stores, especially shopping malls, and exterior common areas, bars, hospitals, colleges and day care centers.

The actual wrongdoer in a premises security case is not the landlord or business owner but the person who committed the crime. Previously, courts were reluctant to hold landowners liable for criminal acts committed by a 3rd party because such conduct was not foreseeable. More recently, however, courts have been more liberal as to the nature of evidence required to show a landlord knew or should have known a crime might occur on the premises. Certainly, courts have expanded the concept of special relationships that give rise to a duty to create and maintain safe conditions. The relationship between landlord and tenant and business owner and patron is now commonly deemed sufficient to confer a duty to provide protection.

The mere commission of a crime is not sufficient to show a breach of duty. Plaintiffs must demonstrate that the landlord or business owner failed to provide an adequate level of security. In premises security lawsuits, claims most frequently arise from broken door locks, defective intercom systems, poorly trained or negligently hired security guards, and insufficient lighting of parking lots.

If you are injured due to faulty security, consult a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It will be necessary to ensure that evidence is preserved and that claims are filed in a timely fashion.

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New York Premises Liability: Questions and Answers

The blanket legal term “premises liability” encompasses a wide range of personal injuries occurring on property belonging to another person. The property can be owned by a small business, family, giant corporation or municipality, but regardless, each property owner has a duty to keep his land in reasonably safe condition to protect people who might enter it.

What is Premises Liability?

As stated, the term “premises liability” can be used to describe a number of different legal causes of action arising from personal injuries sustained on another’s land.

If you have suffered one of these injuries, you probably have many questions. You need to know if the property owner is liable for your injuries. You need to know who is responsible for paying your medical bills. You want to know if someone will have to pay you for the wages you lost while recovering. There are no real standard answers to any of these questions without consulting a lawyer. Personal injury cases are very fact-specific. When you are injured, you should seek the counsel of an experienced premises liability attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Common Premises Liability Injuries

Below you will find some specific examples and a general explanation of the typical liability attached to them. Keep in mind, however, that the facts of your unique case could be the key factor in deciding who is responsible for your injuries. This is not meant to be a substitute for legal advice.

Q: Who is liable for my sidewalk slip-and-fall injury?

A: It depends. Liability for an injury turns on several factors, including who is responsible for the property, whether the injured person was there legally and how the injury occurred. Sidewalks, while usually installed by government entities, are typically maintained by the home or business owner attached to them. If, for example, a business owner failed to repair a large crack in a sidewalk, it is likely that the owner would be liable for a fall caused by stepping into that crack. If that same injury occurred in front of a private single-family residence, however, the outcome might be different and the City may be primarily responsible.

Q: My child is sick with lead poisoning; do I have a claim against my landlord?

A: Possibly. New York, like the great majority of other jurisdictions, has passed laws requiring the removal, replacement or proper covering of lead-based paint and building materials. If the lead poisoning was the result of a known condition (peeling paint in an apartment hallway) that the landlord reasonably should have seen and taken steps to correct, then the landlord is likely liable for failing to repair the hazard. If, on the other hand, a landlord had no idea there was a child in the apartment (such as a child being born after the parents move in) the landlord could escape responsibility.

Q: I was assaulted in my own building; can I hold management responsible?

A: Unfortunately, criminal attacks are all too common in New York City. It may be possible to recover for an assault occurring in a residential apartment or condominium building if it is reasonably foreseeable that a crime could occur there. Basically, if there is lax security (broken entry locks, unlit hallways, accessible storage rooms not easily viewed) or a crime has occurred there in the past, it might be possible to hold the building’s management or owners responsible.

Q: A railing broke and I fell and got hurt; do I have a claim?

A: If the defective railing is in a place where the building’s owner or manager could have been expected to know it was unsafe, you might be able to seek damages incurred as a result of your injuries. Building owners and landlords are responsible for keeping their property safe for visitors and residents. Defects that are not clearly noticeable are particularly problematic; loose stairs, weakened railings, torn carpets, wobbly floorboards – all of these are potentially hazardous and could be invisible to the casual observer.

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you might be able to file a claim for the damages which come as a result of your injuries. It is important to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney in your area who can give you more information about your legal rights and options.

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Personal Injury – An Overview

Our lawyers have helped victims who have been injured in by work-related knee injuries, traumatic brain injuries and other accidents throughout New York. We are dedicated to helping each client recover maximum compensation for their injuries.

Personal injury lawsuits are filed by people (or their representatives) injured due to the negligence of someone else. The injury may be either physical or emotional, and it can arise from a variety of sources or types of conduct. Some of the most common types of personal injuries that give rise to legal liability on the part of the wrongdoer include slip and fall, automobile accidents, assaults and battery, medical malpractice, and defective product injuries. The general goal of personal injury actions is to determine who was responsible and to compel them to compensate the injured person for the losses sustained. If you or someone you know has been injured by the careless actions of another, contact a personal injury attorney at The Orlow Firm in Flushing, New York, at once to find out how we can help you preserve your rights.

Personal injury damages

Personal injury lawyers can help ensure that their clients receive the damages to which they are entitled by law. Some of the items for which injured parties are legally entitled to compensation include lost wages, past and future medical expenses, damages for both physical and emotional pain and suffering, and damages for disfigurement. Sometimes, a close family member of the injured person, such as his or her spouse, may also be entitled to damages. This award is often referred to as loss of consortium damages, which is intended to compensate the loved one for the loss of the injured or deceased person’s services and companionship.

Other kinds of damages that may be awarded, depending on the laws of the state where the lawsuit is brought and the facts of the particular case, include hedonic damages, which are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for the loss of enjoyment of activities that he or she once valued but can no longer participate in as a result of the injuries suffered. In addition, punitive damages may be awarded when the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious and the court or jury determines that the defendant should be punished by paying an amount above and beyond the plaintiff’s actual damages. Punitive damage awards may also serve to deter others from engaging in similar wrongful conduct.

“Legal causation” of personal injuries

Not every injured plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for the injury he or she sustains. Besides the injury, the plaintiff must also establish, through credible and relevant evidence, that the defendant is legally responsible for his or her injuries. The plaintiff must present proof of causation both in terms of actual causation and proximate (legal) causation. Actual causation is determined by literal cause and effect. Whether legal causation is established depends on the facts and circumstances of the particular matter in question.

In some personal injury actions, legal causation may be established if the plaintiff can show that the defendant engaged in intentional conduct. This means that the wrongdoer intentionally or purposefully harmed the plaintiff or knew that the conduct in which he or she engaged gave rise to a substantial likelihood that harm would result.

Negligence and strict liability

Other personal injury actions are based on a looser concept of fault called negligence. Under the negligence theory, a defendant is held liable for the results of action, or inaction, when an ordinary person in the same position should have foreseen that the conduct would create an unreasonable risk of harm to others. Still other types of personal injury actions are based on strict liability, which is a no-fault system under which liability may be established regardless of the fault of the various parties, including the injured party. Strict liability may be applied in products liability cases, such as when a manufacturer or seller of a defective product puts that product into the hands of consumers and users of the product are injured.

The defendant can be held liable for actions taken or for actions not taken. A driver who fails to stop at a red light and hits another vehicle and injures the other driver or passengers is liable based on her negligent acts. A property owner who fails to clear the ice and snow from the front steps of a business open to the public may be liable for his inaction if a patron falls and breaks her leg when attempting to enter the premises.

Defenses to liability in personal injury vases

In some situations, the defendant’s conduct, while questionable, may not give rise to damages. If, for instance, a plaintiff knowingly and willfully chooses to encounter a known hazard, then the law provides that he or she has assumed the risk of injury and therefore the defendant should not be liable. The assumption of the risk theory may apply also in a case in which the plaintiff engaged in a friendly game of tackle football and another player broke his arm; in such a case, the plaintiff may be unable to recover for his injuries because he knew of the risks inherent in the game and willingly chose to encounter them.

The following are possible defenses to personal injury claims.

  • Statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations are laws setting forth the period within which the lawsuit must be initiated.
  • Sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity provides that certain government officials are immune from civil liability for their official conduct.
  • Intentional misuse. Injuries caused by a plaintiff’s intentional misuse of a product may be a defense to liability in a products liability case.
  • Contributory or comparative negligence. Contributory or comparative negligence exists where the plaintiff’s own conduct caused or contributed to his or her injuries.

A personal injury lawyer can explain these and other defenses and determine whether they apply to a particular case.

Contact a personal injury lawyer

Personal injury actions often require a lawyer’s careful examination of the surrounding facts and circumstances to determine whether the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. A personal injury attorney at The Orlow Firm in Flushing, New York, can look at the facts of your case and determine whether you have a legally valid claim, how soon you must act to preserve your rights, the damages to which you may be entitled and whether you may be entitled to some type of financial benefits before your lawsuit is even resolved. Additionally, in many personal injury cases, you owe no legal fees unless and until the defendant pays the damage award.

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Injured While Shopping: Retail-related Personal Injury Cases

You may think shopping is a relatively harmless activity, but thousands of people are injured each year in consumer-related pursuits. Shopping injuries may occur because a store owner has failed to keep the premises safe, or to warn of known dangers that may injure shoppers, workers and visitors.

Broadly speaking, the term, ‘shopping injury’ is used to describe personal injuries that occur while a person is visiting a retail establishment such as a store or shopping mall. Most shopping-related injuries are minor, but more severe cases might involve broken bones, sprains, head trauma, neck injury, spinal injury, and even death. During high-volume shopping periods such as Christmas season or Black Friday, retail-related injuries tend to increase at a greater rate.

Types of Shopping Accidents

Types of shopping accidents that commonly occur on a store-owner’s premises include:

  • Falls that result when a shopping cart tips over.
  • Slips and falls caused by poor lighting conditions, wet floors, torn or worn carpeting and malfunctioning escalators.
  • Injuries to head and body caused by falling objects and retail displays.
  • Trampling injuries caused by overcrowding hazards.
  • Parking lot injuries resulting from cracked surfaces, poor design, or slippery conditions caused by failure to remove accumulated ice and snow.

State negligence laws generally allow for the filing of claims by persons injured in commercial establishments such as stores or shopping malls. Under the theory of premises liability, store owners must take reasonable steps to keep store premises reasonably free of dangers or hazardous conditions that they have reason to believe may cause injury. Store owners are responsible, for example, for fixing worn or broken stairs and railings, for removing fallen objects and debris, for cleaning up spills and wet floor surfaces, for installing adequate lighting, and for providing customers with an adequate level of security.

To prove a store owner was liable for a shopping-related injury, the plaintiff must establish:

  • The store owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition existing on the property.
  • The store owner failed to properly maintain the premises, or neglected to regularly inspect the store for possible hazardous conditions.
  • The shopper would not have been injured but for the dangerous condition on the property.
  • The shopper’s injuries were caused by the dangerous condition.
  • The shopper is able to show actual damages as a result of the injury.

The store owner might argue that:

  • The premises were free of dangers.
  • He had no knowledge of a dangerous condition.
  • He took reasonable steps to repair the hazard.
  • The shopper should have noticed the condition and avoided it,
  • The condition did not cause the customer’s injuries,
  • The customer should not have been in that particular area of the store,
  • The shopper caused the injury by means of his or her own negligence.

As you can see, these cases involve complicated facts and a store owner’s liability might be difficult to prove. If you have suffered a shopping-related injury, you should consult with an attorney experienced in these matters.

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