A slip and fall accident claim is part of premises liability law. This applies to an injury that occurs on private or public property as the result of a deliberate or negligent act that caused a hazardous or unreasonably dangerous condition that led to an injury. Different principles apply regarding the nature of the property and the status of the owner.
For instance, in California slip and fall cases, a business owner has a duty to inspect the property for hazards and to fix them or provide an adequate warning to persons invited on the property. Notice of the dangerous condition to the owner must be shown. If someone alerted the owner of the condition but nothing was done, liability may be imposed. Also, if the condition lasted long enough so that the owner should have been aware of it, which constitutes constructive notice, then liability may be found as well.
This failure to act or warn by a landowner that results in an injury is compensable for the injured victim. Damages include lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses and pain and suffering. A spouse can also sue for loss of consortium if the injury was extensive.
Some slip and fall cases can result in fatalities or life-altering injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or paralysis. Many businesses carry liability insurance of at least $1 million to insure them against serious injury claims.
The following is a list of 5 large settlement cases in slip and fall matters:
- $18 million in a Pennsylvania case. A medical student suffered a severe spinal injury when he fell 18 feet down a city street manhole with no cover. The responsible party was an energy company responsible for the steam system under the Philadelphia streets. Access to the system was down the manholes. For several years, the company was aware that homeless individuals routinely removed manhole covers and went down below for shelter but the company did little to remedy the problem. The amount of the award was due to the medical student’s future loss of earnings.
- $5 million in a Chicago case involving fitness equipment. A 68-year old man was using an exercise table when he slipped and fell. The equipment might have been an inversion table or some other device where he was able to perform specific exercises. After falling, the man remained on the floor for 3 days before being discovered with paralyzing injuries. The equipment manufacturer and store where the table was sold were sued. This is an example of both a slip and fall and product liability case.
- $12.2 million. In one of the largest slip and fall settlements in Virginia history, a woman was awarded this substantial amount after slipping and falling from a puddle caused by a leaking awning from a convenience store. The store owners admitted it had been aware of the problem for quite some time but did nothing to warn people or to remedy the hazard. The victim was the owner of a cosmetology business and suffered seizures, a change in personality and cognitive difficulties.
- $7.75 million for a Richmond, Virginia renter who slipped on black ice while walking to his car from his apartment building. Black ice is a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface that is difficult to spot. The apartment owner was alleged to have failed to pre-treat the slippery area despite advance warning of a major snow storm nor to have done anything to remove the snow and ice after the storm. The owner also did not apply salt or ice to commonly used areas, especially since there was a slight warming in the weather followed by freezing temperatures. The victim suffered severe tibia and fibula injuries as well as complications from his diabetic condition. This is an example of a “soft shell” plaintiff who suffered more as a result of a preexisting condition but who was entitled to more substantial damages. Defendants take plaintiffs “as they are,” or will have to pay more for whatever underlying condition the plaintiff had prior to the incident that led to more extensive injuries than a normally healthy person would have suffered.
- $5.6 Million against a Mississippi MacDonald’s Restaurant for a woman who sustained severe spinal injuries after slipping on a floor with a greasy buildup. It was revealed that the store was understaffed and failed to follow MacDonald’s policies regarding routine maintenance and checks of the floor for spills, leaks and buildup of residue that ultimately led to the accident.
Not all slip and fall cases result in multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements. It takes an experienced slip and fall California lawyer, like Andrew Ritholz, who also has the resources to handle such cases that are typically against large business owners or municipalities that routinely reject claims and hold plaintiffs to their proof. Consult with a Pasadena slip and fall attorney if you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury through the negligence of a business or other property owner.