Family dinners may become more awkward for one mother and daughter.

Parents were visiting their daughter in her apartment complex on evening. As they exited her unit, which was on an upper level, the mother missed the last step of the staircase and fell to the ground below.

The Extent Of Her Injuries

When she fell, she fractured her ankle. This fracture required doctors to perform open reduction internal fixation. She had to return two years later for a second procedure in order to remove hardware left in the ankle. She also aggravated a pre-existing injury in her right shoulder.

Both of these injuries have left her with a limited range of motion in her ankle and shoulder.

Her medical bills totaled more than $75,000.

The Complaint Against Her Daughter

The mother filed a lawsuit against not only the owners of the apartment complex, but also her daughter.

She alleged that the apartment company was negligent because the light in the stairwell was out, and the lack of light created a hazardous environment. She claimed that her daughter was negligent because she failed to inform her landlord that the light was out.

The Defendants Responses

Her daughter argued that she had reported the issue with the light to the landlord. The landlord maintained that they had received no notice of the potential hazard and that the daughter should be held liable because she shut the door to her apartment taking away any ambient lighting from the stairwell.

The Outcome Of The Case

Prior to going to trial, the apartment complex settled at mediation for $290,000. The daughters insurance company also settled with her mother for $100,000.

Slip & Fall Cases: What The Plaintiff Must Prove

In order for someone else to be legally responsible for the injuries that the plaintiff suffered by slipping and falling, one of the following must be true:

  1. The owner, or an employee working for the owner, must have caused the hazard which resulted in the accident.
  2. The owner or employee must have know about the hazard and done nothing to resolve it.
  3. The owner or employee should have known about the hazard because a reasonable party would have discovered the problem and fixed or removed it.

What Is Considered “Reasonable”?

What is considered reasonable changes from location to location because no two properties are alike. Some questions that are asked while determining this are:

  • Did poor lighting contribute to the cause of the accident?
  • Were there any warning signs placed around the hazard?
  • If an object was the cause of the slip and fall, was there a good reason for the object to be there?
  • Does the owner of the property regularly examine and clean the property?
  • Was the hazard that caused the plaintiff to slip and fall there for a a period of time that was long enough for the owner to discover it and resolve the issue?

The plaintiffs possible contribution to the accident may also be taken into account.

Common Causes Of Slip & Fall Accidents

Some of the top causes of slip & fall accidents are:

Broken & Uneven Sidewalks

In New York, residential and commercial property owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks that are next to their property. If the city owns the property, the city is responsible for ensuring that the sidewalks are even and breaks are repaired.

Ice & Snow

While the “Natural Accumulation Rule” is taken into consideration, property owners are responsible for the removal of any snow and ice from any areas where pedestrians might walk.

Hazards On Steps & Stairways

Spilled liquids, loose carpeting, rotted wood, defective handrails, and poor lighting can all cause a fall off of steps or down a stairwell.

The injuries sustained during a fall caused by any of these hazards can be so severe that the quality of life of the victim can be greatly diminished. Those who find their lifestyle has changed after being injured in a slip and fall accident should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to learn more about their legal options.