When an individual slips, trips or falls and sustains injuries, a lawsuit may be filed. Issues that frequently lead to a slip, trip or fall include ice, water, soap, oil, cracks and/or holes on a walking surface, which can cause an individual to lose his or her balance and fall to the floor. Each year, more than 1 million Americans end up in the emergency room due to injuries sustained from a slip and fall.
Elements of a Slip, Trip and Fall Case
If an injury occurs due to the condition of a property, the victim has to prove that the property owner was negligent. Negligence refers to the owner (or an employee) knowing about the problem and choosing to ignore it: Or that the owner should have been aware of the dangerous condition and taken action to fix it, or at least warn patrons about the issue. Actions that could be taken include roping the area off, fixing the problem, cleaning the area or warning of the condition (i.e., slippery or wet floor signs, etc.).
Common Injuries Sustained in a Slip, Trip and Fall
Strains and sprains are two of the most common injuries sustained during a slip, trip or fall. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon stretches, or tears. Tendons are fibrous cords of tissues that connect the muscles to the bones. Strains frequently occur in the hamstring located in the back of the thigh, or in the lower back.
Sprains occur when ligaments stretch or tear. Ligaments are tough bands of fibrous tissue connecting two bones together (in the joints). Parts of the body that are prone to sprains include the ankle, wrist and knee.
NYC Slip and Fall Case Settlements
Denise Giles vs. New York City
In September of 2006, Denise Giles (41) fell as she walked on the sidewalk outside of the Heritage Health Care Center, a clinic owned by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. The sidewalk was damaged and the corporation knew about it because it had received a violation notice three years prior to Giles’ fall. In the notice, the sidewalk was cited as ‘broken’ and as a ‘trip hazard.’ Due to the fall, Giles claimed that she needed ankle surgery. Before the case went to court, a settlement was reached: Giles received a $2.25 million settlement. The payment to Giles was just one of the 885 payments that the city made involving legal claims about defective sidewalks. The city paid out $60 million, with Giles’ settlement being the largest of all the sidewalk claims included in this grouping. The average payment amount for the other claims was about $68,000.
Lidy Telsaint vs. New York City
Following the Giles’ settlement, the next largest payout for an injury sustained due to a sidewalk is the Lidy Telsaint case. In 2007, Telsaint fractured her ankle due to ice on the sidewalk outside her family home. A jury awarded Telsaint more than $2 million. However, the city appealed the verdict. In the end, Telsaint received $1.5 million.
Ali Muyir vs. NYC Transit
Ali Muyir (19) was a pre-med student Long Island University. In December of 2009, as he stood on the elevated platform, he leaned forward, craning his neck to see if the train was approaching. Suddenly, he lost his balance, falling onto the track. Directly thereafter, the oncoming train ran into Muyir. Luckily, he does not remember the incident itself. Due to the extensive damage to his legs, surgeons were forced to amputate them both (just below his knees). In addition, his right hand had to be surgically repaired.
Following an investigation into the reason for his fall, a hole in the platform’s rubbing board where Muyir stood waiting for the train was discovered. According to court records, this hole had been painted to match the surrounding board by an MTA employee who was responsible for checking safety.
Prior to Muyir’s fall, a report published by the NYC Transit found that despite rider instances and warnings of hazards on subway platforms citywide, the MTA did not fix these hazards. The inspector general’s office of the MTA concluded that in 2008, 23 of the 27 stations reviewed had major trip-and-fall dangers. A jury awarded Muyir nearly $20 million.
Following the jury award, NYC Transit filed an appeal. After a six-year court battle, Muyir decided to settle for $9 million.
Patricia Cuozzo vs. New York City and The Department of Education
Patricia Cuozzo, 59, worked as an administrative assistant for the New York Center for Interpersonal Development, which is a nonprofit group providing youth with community and professional development programs. As Cuozzo walked through the hallway on the first floor, she slipped and fell due to a puddle of water. Cuozzo suffered serious back injuries requiring two separate surgeries. She settled with the defendants for $850,000.
Kudrat Rakhimoff vs. the Jewish Community Center
Kudrat Rakhimoff, 38, was playing soccer at the Jewish Community Center when he slipped on a puddle (caused by a leaky ceiling) and fell to the floor. He was taken to Staten Island University Hospital for treatment. He was diagnosed with a comminuted fracture of the ankle. Due to this injury, Rakhimoff had three different surgeries. He sued the Jewish Community Center, eventually settling out of court for $450,000.
If you slipped, tripped or fell and have sustained injuries, we are here to help. Contact The Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond to schedule your complimentary case review today. Our phone number is 718-588-2000. We offer in-home and hospital consultations. In addition, weekend and evening appointments are available.