Liability for Slip and Fall Cases Involving Stairs
Most slip and fall claims do not go to trial. Defendants are usually willing to settle out of court, and California slip and fall claims are not any different, as both parties tend to want to save the time and money of being in court. It is, however, important noting that each case is different, and it will be determined based on its unique merits. To better understand the topic, you can consult your Slip And Fall Accident Lawyer.
One aspiring professional artist by the name of Angela visited Palos Verdes, the home of a producer Vinny on one Saturday afternoon for a pool party. According to the invitation, guests were encouraged to wear appropriate pool attire such as shorts, bathing suits, deck shoes, or sandals. Guests were further instructed to enter the pool area through the gate at the right side of the home.
The path leading to the pool was made of gravel, which irritated Angela’s bare feet. She, therefore, decided to walk on the leaves on the edge of the gravel path. When she was just approaching the gate, a lawn sprinkler that was hidden in the leaves caught Angela’s right foot. She lost balance, and before she could realize it, she felt some sharp pain in her left knee.
Her Knee had twisted, and when she screamed, Vinny came to help her. The knee swelled immediately, and she could not walk on it again, and she, therefore, decided to drive herself to the hospital.
Medical Treatment Of The Injuries
X-rays taken at the ER didn’t show any sign of fractures. However, the doctor suspected that the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) was injured and therefore recommended her to an orthopedist. The doctor sent Angela home with a knee brace, an ice pack, and crutches.
Upon visiting an orthopedist, injuries to the ACL were confirmed by an MRI. An arthroscopic procedure was prescribed, and surgery was done to repair the damage. The orthopedist recommended rehabilitation therapy to help stabilize and strengthen the knee.
Angela was about to begin a national eight-week tour at the time of the accident as she had just completed a national television taping for a professional concert. Her performance would have included jumping and dancing. According to the estimates made by the rehabilitation therapist, Angela could not participate in professional performance for the next six months. Due to this reason, she was forced to refund all tickets and postpone the concert indefinitely.
The Demand Letter
According to the state’s Limitation Of Action Laws, Angela’s trip and fall attorney had two years to file claims for personal injury. If her settlement offer was accepted, she should not seek additional compensation later if she needed further treatment or care. Angela’s fall injury attorney in LA decided to wait until stabilization of her condition before submitting her claim to Vinny’s insurance company to make a better assessment of any potential future complications.
The Los Angeles injury lawyer sent their demand letter after Angela completed rehabilitation. The demand letter claimed Vinny was legally liable for her injuries under the law of negligence and went further to describe the accident that happened. The letter claimed that:
- The lawn sprinkler was too close to the path, Vinny knew guests would use that path because he had instructed them so
- Prior inspection of the path would have shown that the sprinkler was hidden by the leaves
- Failure to inspect and uncover the concealed sprinkler created a hazardous condition
- It could be reasonably foreseeable that guests would trip on the sprinkler and sustain injuries.
Angela’s trip and fall compensation lawyer included all damages in the Slip And Fall Demand Letter which included all expenses and losses resulting from the accident. The damages and losses were as follows:
- Lost wages stemming from the cancellation of her concert and refunded tickets
- Medical care expenses including surgery, medication, and rehab
- Compromised earning capacity due to her need to restrict jumping and dancing.
Her total out-of-pocket expenses amounted to about $90,000, and the slip and fall law firm claimed $25,000 for pain and suffering, making the total claim $315,000. To further support her claim, the demand letter included:
- MRI and X-ray images
- Copies of rehab and medical bills
- Medical reports signed by the rehab therapist and the orthopedic surgeon, which included the therapist’s recommendation that she reduce professional jumping and dancing.
- Itemization of the canceled tour and refunded tickets.
The Insurance Company’s Counter-Offer
When Vinny’s insurance company received the demand letter, they rejected it with a counter offer of $85,000. The company listed the following justifications for the counter-offer:
- The host had made sure the gravel path was clear
- The sprinkler was visible two hours before the party
- The leaves that covered the sprinkler head were blown there by that afternoon’s Santa Anna winds between the time of inspections and the occurrence of the accident.
- According to California’s law of contributory negligence, Angela shared over half the fault by not wearing sandals and walking outside the path. She had assumed the risks, and hence Vinny was not fully liable for her damages.
- Since Angela was an aspiring singer and the rehabilitation was successful, the claim for reduced earning capacity did not hold water.
- No evidence was added to prove that exemption of dancing from Angela’s performance would impact her career.
After much deliberations and calls between Angela’s fall injury lawyer in Los Angeles and the insurance company, provision of further supporting documents showing that Angela’s dancing skills won as much acclaim as her singing, the insurance company finally sent a final offer of $125,000.
Upon discussing the offer with her slip and fall lawsuit attorney in Los Angeles, she accepted the company’s final counter-offer. Since going to court incurs additional Fees and a court case has a much more unpredictable outcome, it was deemed safer to accept the $125,000.
Each slip and fall case is unique by virtue of its facts, and you should therefore expect a different assessment of your case. By consulting a seasoned Los Angeles accident compensation lawyer, you can better determine whether the facts of your case will amount to a successful slip and fall claim.