Fell on wet floor when I had an existing broken leg and ankle...

by Shante
(Philadelphia, PA)

I have a tibula and talus fracture with partial ligament tear in my ankle. As I was walking on crutches at the welfare office, I slipped and fell on water that was on the floor (it was downpour raining all day). There was no signs up stating wet floor and I did not see any water on the floor as I proceeded to walk.

I fell and had excruciating pain in my ankle and leg that was hurt, and additional pain in my other ankle and back. I was taken from that location via paramedics to the emergency room at the same hospital I originally went to for my prior injury.

The X-ray concluded that I did not break anything in addition to my prior injury, however I have considerable pain associated with the new injury and have to see my orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible.

Two witnesses (security guards) wrote statements as they saw the fall and admitted that the floor was considerably wet. They then proceeded to clean up the water in various places in the establishment and put up "Caution" signs after my injury.

Because I had a prior injury am I not able to pursue a separate claim for their negligence? If I can take legal action, how do I bring a claim for this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Fell on wet floor when I had an existing broken leg and ankle...":

Shante (Philadelphia, PA):

For purposes of this answer we will presume the injury occurred in a Pennsylvania State Department of Human Services Office. You may be barred from pursuing a slip and fall negligence claim against the state under the legal doctrine of Sovereign Immunity.

Sovereign immunity means State and Federal governments are immune, or protected from civil claims by private individuals when the government agency or its employees are negligent, and as a result of that negligence, someone is injured.

There are some exceptions. More and more over the years the doctrine of sovereign immunity has been eroded. Today government agencies often consent to being sued or having a civil claim filed against them.

To read more about the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity read this:
State Sovereign Immunity and Tort Liability

According to Title 42 Section 8541 of Pennsylvania Judicial Code, the State of Pennsylvania may waive sovereign immunity if both of the following occur:

(Summarizing) - The damages would be recoverable if the injury were to have been caused by a person other than a government agency or government employee (a private person or business, and

The injury was caused by the negligent acts of a government agency or a government employee acting within the scope of his (or her) job duties.

Note: This waiver of immunity does not apply if the government agency or government employee caused an injury as a result of their criminal act or willful or malicious conduct.

Pennsylvania's Sovereign Immunity Act limits recovery to a maximum of $250,000 for one person.

The types of compensation recoverable are:

(1) past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity

(2) pain and suffering

(3) medical and dental expenses;

(4) loss of consortium, and

(5) property losses, except that property losses cannot be recovered in actions involving dangerous conditions created by potholes and sinkholes on Commonwealth highways.

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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