Fell off a stool on rollers...

by Jeff
(Fredericksburg, VA)

My 71 year-old mother was brought into an exam room at her clinic and, given her age and physical limitations, went to sit in a stool on rollers. While attempting to sit on it, the stool rolled from under her and she fell to the ground.

Since that initial injury, she has sustained several more falls due to weakness and pain in her leg. She has accrued several hospital stays, exams, and several thousands of dollars worth of medical expenses. This is in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Do we have have any kind of legal case to get her medical expenses covered? What can we do in this situation? Thank you for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Fell off a stool on rollers...":

Jeff (Fredericksburg, VA):

From the facts you present, it appears the initial clinic may have been negligent. The clinic owner knew, or should have known older people, including your mother would be waiting in an exam room where at least one of the chairs was a stool with rollers.

As most people know, a rolling stool placed on a hard tile or linoleum floor can move freely and quickly, becoming a danger not only to older people, but to younger ones as well. With that knowledge, the clinic owner failed to remove the stool, or otherwise lock it so it would not move.

Under the legal doctrine of premises liability, a property owner has a legal duty of care to do everything reasonably possible to protect those persons who are legally upon the property from undue harm and injury.

In this case, premises liability applies to the clinic owner. The clinic owner knew, or should have known there was a real possibility your mother would sit on the rolling stool. The clinic owner also should have realized your mother may not have known the stool was on rollers and therefore subject to rolling quickly along the floor.

With that imputed knowledge the clinic owner failed to remove the stool or otherwise lock it to avoid injuring your mother. As a result it can be argued the clinic owner "breached" his or her legal duty of care. That breach constitutes negligence. When negligence exists, and that negligence is the proximate cause of a person's injuries, the property owner may be liable for the injured person's damages.

While your facts indicate your mother fell while attempting to sit on the rolling stool, there is no indication she was immediately injured or required medical treatment. While it can be implied when your mother fell she experienced pain, there is no evidence of her having sustained bruising, fractures, head trauma, strains or sprains, etc.

Since the initial fall in the clinic your mother has sustained several more falls due to weakness and pain in her leg. Unfortunately, there is no evidence her post-clinic falls and injuries were a direct result of her having fallen in the clinic.

Without supporting medical narratives, medical or therapy bills, or other proof your mother’s injuries were the result of her initial fall in the clinic, you do not have sufficient evidence to support a claim for reimbursement for her medical bills and related costs.

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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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
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