Visitor Question

Premises and product liability claims for collapsed chair injuries?

Submitted By: Daniel (Plattsburgh, New York)

I was discharged from a hospital in New York State following a knee replacement surgery. I was not offered to be wheeled out to my car in a wheelchair so I was walking out using a cane. My knee was hurting so I stopped to sit on an Adirondack-style wooden chair in the lobby.

The chair collapsed under me causing me two herniated discs in my neck and lower back. I also suffered a compression fracture of my L5 and a 3 inch laceration on my left lower bicep which bled for 3 days.

The hospital quickly removed the damaged chair and another just like it and disposed of them. The staff told me “Sorry, but accidents happen.”

I’ve been treated medically for 14 months. I still have bad back and neck pain.  The left side of my neck, back, front of chest, and arm tingles and goes numb.

Do I have a case against the hospital and manufacturer of the chair?

I appreciate anything you can tell me.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Daniel,

Thank you for your question. You may have a case against the hospital based on negligence. You may also have a product liability case against the chair’s manufacturer.

Negligence Case

Premises liability is the body of law that makes the person or company in possession of property responsible for injuries suffered by individuals on the property.

Under this area of the law, if a person suffers an injury on another’s property, the property owner is responsible for the injury if the owner was negligent.

Negligence is when a person or company does something wrong or fails to do what a reasonable person would do to prevent harm to others. If a party is negligent, then it has to compensate the injured person for any losses they experienced due to their accident.

In your case, you may have a negligence case against the hospital if you can show that it knew the chair was in disrepair and failed to repair it or remove it.

We’d need to learn more facts about your case to determine, to any level of certainty, if the hospital acted negligently.

For example, if hospital personnel saw something wrong with the chair and ignored it, you may have a strong negligence claim. It would be the same if personnel saw another accident in a similar chair and failed to investigate it.

However, if no one from the hospital was aware of any risk with the chair, then your case would lose some strength.

Product Liability Case

In a product liability case, you can bring an injury claim against the manufacturer of a product if you can show that some defect in the product caused your injury.

Here, you’d have to show that there was some obvious design problem with the chair or problem in its manufacturing.

Once again, we’d have to learn more facts about the chair to understand if there was some type of obvious defect with it. We’d also have to look into the specific operations of the chair’s manufacturer to learn if there was some type of hidden defect associated with the chair.

Without these types of facts, we can’t provide a strong opinion on the strength of a product liability case.

Comparative Fault

If you bring a case against either the hospital or the chair’s manufacturer, that party is likely going to say that you were comparatively negligent for your accident. Comparative negligence simply means that you helped contribute to your accident or injury.

If an injured victim is comparatively negligent, then they can still recover compensation in an injury claim or lawsuit. However, their compensation gets reduced by their percentage of fault in causing the injury.

New York is what’s referred to as a “pure comparative negligence” state. This means even if you were 99 percent to blame for your accident, you can still recover some money from the hospital, manufacturer, or even both.

You can find the applicable New York law here.

It’s likely that the hospital or manufacturer will say you were comparatively negligent because you were walking unassisted immediately after a knee replacement surgery.

They can also assert that you contributed to your accident by choosing to sit in a relatively low type of chair after your surgery.

You can help defend against these claims by showing that the hospital only gave you a cane for help and that there were no other chairs to sit down on.

Contact an Attorney for Help

Your case is complicated. It’s a good idea for you to contact a local attorney for help with your case. A skilled personal injury attorney will know what to investigate to help determine if the hospital or chair’s manufacturer knew of a problem associated with the chair.

Learn more here: Broken Chair Accidents & Injuries

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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