$600,000 Settlement for Slip and Fall Victim
Sullivan Brill recently recovered $600,000 on behalf of a 60 year old women that fell down the steps at a historic Bed and Breakfast she was visiting on a vacation from out of state. The accident happened soon after the client checked into the inn. She went up a flight of steps that had a triangular step at the top as depicted in this photograph.
After placing her belongings down, she walked over to a window in the stair landing to close it and stepped off the triangular step, toppling down the steps to her right and landing on her shoulder.
One of the challenges in the case was that the insurance company immediately hired an engineer that conducted an inspection and came to the conclusion that because the building was built in the late 1700s, it was grandfathered into existing building codes and that the design of the stairs was consistent with customary construction techniques that prevailed at the time. Through discovery and investigation, Sullivan Brill discovered that the use of the building had been changed from a single family residence to a commercial use after the enactment of the building code and that substantial renovations had been done to the building and the staircase at issue. Sullivan Brill then hired a construction engineer to inspect the stair case and evaluate whether it was constructed in accordance with the applicable commercial building codes and generally accepted engineering principals. That analysis revealed several building code violations, which Sullivan Brill argued contributed to causing the accident. Essentially, modern building codes prohibit the triangular stair depicted above in commercial buildings because staircase users will be less familiar with the staircase and are far more likely to have a misstep on them, than a homeowner would be.
After two years of litigation, as jury selection began, the insurance company finally came around to see that its insured had a significant risk of being found liable by a jury. Rather than have the jury decide the case, the insurance company agreed to pay what we viewed as the fair value of the case given the likelihood that a jury would find in favor of the client, our acknowledgment that the client bore some responsibility for failing to see the step and the injuries she sustained in the accident.
The client had sustained a very serious break to the head of the humerus, the bone that goes between the elbow and shoulder.
After being evaluated in a hospital in New York, she returned to her home state, where her orthopedic surgeon performed a shoulder replacement. Unfortunately, she developed complications after the surgery, including heterotopic ossification, a condition where bone grows in the muscle. Ultimately, this caused her rotator cuff to fail and after two years, she had to have the shoulder implant removed and a reverse shoulder replacement implanted. Fortunately, after this second surgery, she made an excellent recover and was able to return her full attention to her business and family.
Practice area(s): Personal Injury