A settlement check arrived today for a man who tripped and fell on a defective sidewalk in Queens. The man broke a bone in his hand and wore a cast for a month. We built a case that proved that the defective sidewalk caused his fall and we identified the landowner whose negligence caused the injury. While the man’s health insurance covered his medical expenses, he deserved compensation for the injury from the people who caused it.
Let me share with you the facts of this slip and fall case and the process that led to the $15,000 settlement.
A Property Owner’s Negligence Leads to a Commuter’s Injury
In March 2007, a Queens man started walking to catch a subway so he could go to work. While walking in front of a used auto dealership on Hillside Avenue, the man tripped and fell over a crack and raised potion of the cut formed to create a driveway.
A Broken Bone in the Hand
The man got up and begin to make his way to work. Within a few hours, his hand swelled and the throbbing pain made it hard to work. He went to the emergency room, where doctors identified the broken bone in his hand. He suffered a fracture of the base of the fifth metacarpal. The doctor had the man wear a cast for six weeks and then followed a course of physical therapy.
Proving a Trip and Fall Case
In all trip 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, including photographs, which identified the defective sidewalk. We also had strong medical evidence that connected the trip and fall to the man’s injury.
New York City Law provides that the owner of property adjacent to a public sidewalk is responsible for repairing and/or maintaining the sidewalk in front of their property. In this case, that is especially true since the defect in question was caused by the property owner’s “special use” of the sidewalk; that is, the alteration of the sidewalk to a driveway accessing the property.
Maximizing the Case Value for My Client
Granted a broken hand with a good recovery is not the largest case, but I recognize that the largest and most important case to each of my clients is their individual case. 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. 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 man retained me as his attorney, I began an investigation into his case. Since the auto dealer had gone out of business, it took considerable time and effort to track down the liable party in this case. I gathered all the possible evidence and reviewed the medical records. I then prepared a comprehensive assessment of the case for my client.
The defendant showed no interest in negotiating a settlement. When the insurance company opted not to settle immediately, I filed a lawsuit against the defendant and we moved ahead with depositions. I began preparing to go to trial. When the defendant’s insurance company saw the vigor with which we pursued this case, they agreed to enter into settlement talks. My experience has shown that the best way to press for a favorable settlement for my clients is to prepare a rigorous case for trial.
Because of the time we would have needed to complete Discovery and the year wait to start a trial in Queens, the settlement allowed my client to receive his payment as much as two years prior to when his case would have gone to trial.
What are the results of this case? Any time a client receives a settlement, that settlement can make a difference. I would like to believe that the property owner will take better care of his property in the future. While the award will not undo the pain and suffering my client endured due to the incident, 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 trip and fall 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.