Personal Injury Case Study
If an injury occurs on premises under video surveillance, proving liability will be much easier. In this case study we review important aspects of a slip and fall injury case including liability, damages, negotiations, and the final case settlement.
Julie went to the mall a week before Christmas. It was extremely busy and she was rushed. As she exited the escalator, she suddenly slipped and fell forward. She had bags in her left hand and attempted to brace herself with her right hand as she hit the ground.
After the fall she felt immediate pain in her right hand and was unable to get up. Concerned shoppers alerted mall security and they took an incident report of what occurred.
Unknown to Julie, a spilled drink from the nearby food court was pooled at the bottom of the escalator which caused her to slip. The mall video surveillance revealed that the drink was pooled in that area for two hours. Furthermore, no one was seen inspecting the area, cleaning it or warning of the spill.
Property owners are charged with making regular inspections of property, correcting hazards and warning others of the hazards they are unable to repair immediately. The surveillance camera revealed that a small child dropped his drink on the ground which then leaked from the cup causing a pool of soda to develop at the foot of the escalator.
No one (maintenance, janitorial, cleaning crew, etc.) was seen inspecting or cleaning the premises under video surveillance, and no one placed any warning cones or tape around the area to avoid a fall. The property owner breached their duty to the mall-goers and is therefore liable for Julie's injuries.
When a property owner or manager breaches their duty by failing to reasonably inspect their premises, repair hazards or warn of dangers, and such breach is the actual and proximate cause of damages, they are liable under the theory of premises liability.
Julie broke her arm and wrist in the fall and bruised her pelvis. She declined to be transported immediately to the doctor, but regretted that decision at 2:00 a.m. the following morning when she awoke in excruciating pain.
Her husband drove her to the emergency room where x-rays were taken and the broken bones were revealed. Julie was given pain medication and scheduled for surgery four days later.
The surgery performed placed a plate in her hand just above her wrist and a pin in her arm so that the bones would eventually fuse together. She was released the day immediately following surgery and underwent 5 months of physical therapy.
The mall employed a property management company whose insurance accepted liability for the claim. Their initial offer to Julie was $5,000 prior to knowing the exact amount of her bills. However her surgery alone was $25,000 and her physical therapy was $10,000, therefore $5,000 was insufficient to even pay Julie's medical bills.
A year after the accident, Julie employed an attorney who requested a settlement of $140,000 which went unanswered for 3 months. Finally, they came back with a counter offer of $35,000. Julie's attorney counter-offered at $125,000, but the adjuster never responded.
It was clear that their settlement figures were too far apart and that the two year statute of limitations would quickly run out, therefore Julie's attorney filed a lawsuit.
Julie's attorney took all previous settlement figures off the table and prepared to go to trial. On the first day of trial, the judge requested that the parties meet informally with her and make every attempt to settle the case before spending the time and money on a lengthy trial.
After 6 hours of negotiations the defendant settled for $75,000, of which the property management company would be responsible for $50,000 and the mall owner would be responsible for $25,000.
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