Fall Nets $372,000 Verdict in Premises Liability Case

October 15, 2012

Premise Liability

Slip and Fall Injury Premises LiabilityCalifornian Arthur King was found to be 30 percent at fault in an accident at a waste disposal plant in 2010, but he was still awarded more than $372,000 in a premises liability verdict in a Bakersfield Superior Court bench trial, according to the legal website, Verdict Search.

Kern County in California was ordered to pay the judgment (reduced to $261,000 by King’s comparative liability offset) in the lawsuit. The county’s Lebec Transfer Facility was found to have created a dangerous condition on public property and to have kept the facility’s unloading area negligently maintained and in negligent repair.

The accident happened when 77-year-old King was trying to dispose of metal shelving units.  A Lebec employee directed him to back his pick-up into a bay which was six to eight feet from the edge of a platform.  King was in the process of unloading the shelving when he stepped off the edge of the platform and fell more than four feet into a bin below.  He suffered a lacerated head, fractured skull and fractured left ankle.

At trial, the plaintiffs pointed out that the original design of the facility called for installation of safety chains and bollards (short, vertical posts) along the northern edge of the platform.  The county engineer testified the chains and bollards were to prevent people and objects from falling.  The platform was built with the chains and bollards in place, but the county later removed them, plaintiffs indicated.

Six months before King’s fall a substantially similar incident occurred at the facility, the plaintiffs noted.

The county claimed “design immunity” stating that the chains and bollards were intended to be removed or remodeled at the discretion of the facility operator.  They claimed that the original design created a risk of falling or tripping and that the design was made safer by the adjustments that were made.

King stated in his lawsuit that he experiences pain in his left ankle after prolonged walking or standing and has started using a cane.  Since the fall he has also had difficulty maintaining his property.

He was awarded $52,970 in past medical costs—the amount he had stipulated in damages.  He was awarded another $320,000 for past and future pain and suffering ($225,000 and $95,000, respectively).

The county is considering a possible appeal of the verdict.

In Ohio, slip and fall injuries generally fall into the area of Ohio law known as premises liability which is based on common law negligence.  A legal theory must be satisfied to prove that a property owner is liable for something that happened on that owner’s residential or commercial premises.  It is possible others may also be liable.  In the Arthur King case, the county owned the facility where the injury occurred.

To establish premises liability, the victim of an accident must prove that a dangerous condition existed that presented an unreasonable risk to a person on the property who had not anticipated the risk.

The property owner or person responsible for the property where the injury occurred may defend that he or she was unaware of the dangerous condition and thus, did not have an opportunity to warn the public that the dangerous condition existed.  He or she may also claim that although he was aware of the condition, he did not have a reasonable amount of time to adequately respond and prevent an injury.

In the King case, the plaintiff presented evidence at trial that a similar accident had occurred at Lebec six months earlier.

A visitor to a property has a duty to exercise reasonable care for his or her own safety.  When that degree of care is not exercised, the victim of the accident may be shown to be negligent as Arthur King was when he was found to be 30% at fault.

Slip and fall accident cases can get complex.  If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property and are thinking about a legal claim against the parties you believe were at fault, you should discuss your case with an experienced Ohio premises liability attorney.

Keep in mind that there is a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the injury’s occurrence in filing a personal injury lawsuit in Ohio.

Please contact us for a free consultation by calling 1-888-534-4850 or fill out the FREE CASE REVIEW form located on the website at slaterzurz.com.

Make sure you are adequately represented in order to insure adequate compensation for injuries and other damages sustained during a fall.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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