I recently negotiated a $350,000 settlement for a woman who sued her landlord over injuries she suffered in an accident in her apartment building. We argued that the landlord’s negligence caused her to slip and fall on a stairway and fracture her ankle. This woman will finally receive the compensation for the injustice done her. The money will enable her to relocate to with her sons and provide a better life for her family.
Let me share with you the facts of this slip and fall case and the process that led to the $350,000 settlement.
Landlord Negligence Leads to a Resident’s Injury
In August 2008, the residents in a Bronx apartment building complained to the landlord about repair debris left in the stairwell of the building. The landlord failed to respond to their complaints. One of the building’s tenants, a woman who worked as a home health aide, awoke and left for her job one morning and slipped on a grease-like substance on the stairs and fell several steps with her right foot bent backwards.
A Broken Ankle that Required Surgery and Extensive Rehabilitation
An ambulance came and took her to the hospital. Diagnosed with a broken ankle, the woman underwent surgery and required months of physical therapy. The permanent damage to her ankle made it impossible for her to return to work as a home health aide.
Proving the Slip and Fall Case
In all slip and fall cases, we need to prove two main points:
- That the negligence of a party contributed to the slip and fall
- That the slip and fall caused injury and harm
In this case, we had testimony and evidence that the tenants had complained to the landlord about the dangerous conditions in the stairway. We also had strong evidence that it was the debris in the form of a sticky liquid substance that caused the woman’s fall. That evidence included not only the testimony of the victim and her neighbors, but a videotape that a neighbor had taken of the stairway and the woman after her fall while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. The use of camera phones and the video cameras built into smart phones like the iPhone can greatly aid the prosecution of personal injury cases.
Maximizing the Case Value for My Client
I recognize that while many personal injury lawyers can win a case, my challenge and my mission is to get the maximum possible value for my clients. In this case, I spent considerable time analyzing the injury and other losses suffered by this client. I researched the case law, consulted with medical experts and developed convincing presentations. I was also able to make use of previous cases with clients who had similar injuries, including one case with a similar injury that involved the same insurance company and defense firm. This effort helped maximize the award that my client received.
The Settlement Process
Once the woman called me for help, I began an investigation into her case. I gathered all the possible evidence, interviewed witnesses and reviewed the medical records. I then prepared a comprehensive assessment of the case for my client. When she was comfortable with the assessment, I put together a settlement package for the defense.
The insurance company showed some interest in negotiating a settlement, but was slow to act. I have always found that the best way to press for a favorable settlement for my clients is to prepare a rigorous case for trial. When the insurance company opted not to settle immediately, I filed a lawsuit against the defendant and we moved ahead with depositions.
The aggressive prosecution of the case and the strength of the case we prepared helped the defense to find a renewed interest in settling the matter. The defense suggested mediation. The mediation yielded a settlement that my client was happy to accept.
Because of lengthy delays in the trial calendar in the Bronx, by settling when we did, the client received her money about two years before the case would have gone to trial.
Results Matter:Maximizing Value for Clients
What are the results of this case? Any time a client receives a large settlement, that settlement can make a difference. I would like to believe that the landlord will heed the complaints and warnings of his tenants and keep the buildings safe. While the trial will not undo the pain and suffering my client endured due to the incident, the compensation will allow her to relocate and give her teenage sons a better environment in which to grow up. A satisfied client is the best result of any case.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a slip and fall or a stairway accident or if you have been injured due to landlord negligence, you may want to consult a New York personal injury attorney experienced with slip and fall cases. I would be glad to answer your questions and assist you. You can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email me. You can also visit my website or read more on my blog, New York Law Thoughts.
Carol L. Schlitt
New York Personal Injury Attorney
This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney.