A jury recently awarded $16 million to a Bronx grandmother who was left brain-damaged and unable to communicate after a fall in a Brooklyn subway station in 2008.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, the 69-year-old woman had finished her shift at her factory job and was on her way to meet her husband when she failed to see a gouge in the concrete landing leading to the subway stairs. She tripped and fell, slamming her hip and head as she tumbled down the stairs. Later, in the hospital, she suffered seizures that robbed her of her ability to communicate and to care for herself.
The family sued the Metropolitan Transportation Administration’s New York City Transit Division in 2009. The agency claimed that there was no defect in the concrete landing and that woman was to blame for her fall. But the family took photos clearly showing a wide crack in the cement, and they prevailed in the lawsuit.
Every year, 17,000 people die from slip-and-fall accidents across the United States. Falls are the leading cause of fatal accidents for senior citizens 65 and older.
During the winter months, ice and snow can accumulate on stairs and sidewalks, leading to falls that can cause sprains, fractures, spine injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Standing water poses similar hazards. Inside restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses, puddles, food particles and other objects on the floor can lead to falls and injuries.
Legal claims resulting from fall injuries can be complicated, and it is important to consult with an experienced slip-and-fall accident attorney if you have been injured in a fall.
What to Do After a Fall
Here are things you can do if you are hurt in a fall accident:
- Report the accident to the person in charge of the facility where you fell.
- Gather witnesses’ names, addresses, and phone numbers.
- Obtain a copy of slip-and-fall accident reports documented by the police or bystanders.
- Make notes of the conditions that may have contributed to the accident, such as deteriorated or broken sidewalks, debris, standing water or ice and snow left in the walkway for a lengthy amount of time.
- Gather a sample of any substance that caused the harm and place it in a safe storage place. Find a way to preserve if it is perishable.
- Seek medical help as soon as possible. A medical evaluation will reveal the extent of your injuries and help your attorney frame your case. Your medical report will also help determine how much time you will need to take off from work because of the injury. Lost wages are an important component in determining your overall settlement.
- Hang onto the shoes and clothing that you were wearing at the time of the accident. Don’t wash them, and make sure they are stored in a safe place.
- If possible, photograph the scene of the accident, focusing on the overall conditions as well as the specific obstacle that caused the fall.
- If possible in the days, weeks, and months after your accident, keep a diary to record your thoughts and document how your injuries are affecting your mental and emotional well-being and your quality of life.
- Contact an experienced slip-and-fall accident attorney before you talk to the insurance company or sign any papers to make sure you don’t forfeit your rights to be compensated for pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages.
While you are focusing on healing and recovering from your injuries, your attorney will work behind the scenes to file paperwork and set the stage for your trial or work on a settlement.
Photos of the hazard that caused the accident and statements from witnesses will contribute evidence to help your case.
Your attorney will also look for evidence to establish a direct link from your accident to your injury.
A property owner or insurance company will try to prove an earlier injury or medical condition caused your medical problems. In the case of the woman injured in the subway station, the Transit Authority claimed her disability was caused by a small brain tumor she had lived with for many years.
Your attorney will also strive to show the defendant in your case had a clear responsibility for safety. Some professionals call this a “duty of care,” and it is a major part of slip-and-fall accident cases. Contact us today.