Articles Posted in Personal Injury Case Law

Earlier this month, a Florida appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case that was brought by a woman who slipped and fell while crossing the defendant’s property to get back to her home after returning from a dinner cruise. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff was an “uninvited licensee,” and the defendant landowner did not breach any duty it owed her.

Rocky PathThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and a friend planned on taking a dinner cruise. The cruise embarked not far from where the plaintiff lived. On the way to the cruise, the plaintiff and her friend walked on public roads to get to the dock. However, on the way back, the two decided to take a shortcut through a shopping complex parking lot, across a grassy area, and then down a stone-paved path.

As the plaintiff was walking across the stone-paved path near some storm pumps, she stepped on a cracked paving stone and rolled her ankle. She then fell to the ground, resulting in further injuries. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owners of the shopping complex.

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Last month, an appellate court in Alabama issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a man who allegedly slipped and fell while approaching the counter at a fast food restaurant. The court reversed a lower court’s decision that had dismissed the plaintiff’s case, based on the fact that the hazardous condition on which the plaintiff slipped was open and obvious.

Banana PeelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a customer at the defendant fast food restaurant. As the plaintiff entered the restaurant, he first went to the restroom to wash his hands. As he was exiting the restroom, he claims that he slipped and fell on an “oily” substance that was on the floor. After his fall, he got in line to order food. However, when he reached the front of the line, he was reportedly “delusional” and left without ordering. He later filed a premises liability lawsuit against the restaurant.

The restaurant asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit based on two grounds. First, the restaurant claimed that the plaintiff was not truthful. The restaurant presented videos showing a man who appeared to be the plaintiff slipping near the cash register but not falling. When confronted with this video, the plaintiff explained that the slip on the video was not the instance in which he fell but was another instance in which he just slipped.

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Last month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case that was brought by a police officer who was injured while responding to an emergency call. Ultimately, the court concluded that since the officer was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, the “firefighter’s rule” prevented him from recovering compensation for his injuries.

Police SirensThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a police officer who was responding to the scene of an accident that had been called in while he was on duty. The call was for a single-vehicle accident that left a pick-up truck blocking the southbound lanes of the highway. The plaintiff was given the location of the accident and told that the blockage was in the southbound lanes.

As the officer was responding to the scene, he saw headlights up ahead. He believed them to be those of the disabled vehicle. However, the headlights belonged to another motorist’s vehicle that had stopped to assist the pick-up truck driver. As the officer approached the scene at 104 miles per hour, he crashed into the pick-up truck, which had its lights off. The driver of the pick-up truck was later determined to be legally intoxicated.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit brought by a man who fell down a spiral staircase as he was helping a friend move furniture out of the apartment that his friend rented from the defendant landlord. The court ultimately affirmed the trial judge’s ruling to overturn the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff because insufficient evidence was presented to hold the defendant liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Spiral StaircaseThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was helping his friend, who rented an apartment from the defendant, move some furniture. The only way to the apartment was up a spiral staircase. There was a small landing outside the apartment door, where residents would be able to stand as they unlocked the door.

As the plaintiff and his friend attempted to move a large piece of furniture out of the apartment, they first placed it on the landing. The plaintiff then repositioned himself a few steps below the landing, and he leaned against the handrail to keep his balance. As he leaned on the hand rail, he heard a crack, and the rail gave way. The plaintiff fell over the railing and through the center of the spiral staircase. The plaintiff then filed a premises liability lawsuit against the landlord, alleging that the landlord failed to keep the common areas of the apartment complex in a reasonably safe condition.

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Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit brought by several tenants and their guests against the landlord that owned the home where the injuries occurred. Ultimately, the court determined that although the injuries occurred on the landlord’s property, the plaintiffs failed to meet the heightened burden required to establish liability against an out-of-possession landlord.

Back PorchThe Facts of the Case

The landlord purchased the home back in 1987. Shortly after the purchase, the landlord hired an independent contractor to replace the rear deck. The home was rented without incident until 2010.

Around the time when the plaintiffs moved into the home, the landlord went to the property to replace a few of the boards on the rear deck. Evidently, some of the boards were stained, and others had been charred by previous tenants. The landlord conducted a visual check of the deck and testified that everything seemed fine.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a case brought by a woman and her husband after the woman was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. The case, which was initially dismissed by the trial judge, required the court to decide if the trial judge was proper to make the determination that the dog did not have a propensity to bite without provocation. Ultimately, the court determined that this was a question that should have been reserved for the jury, and therefore summary judgment was inappropriate.

Dog's ProfileThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were neighbors with the defendants. About a week before the incident that gave rise to this case, the defendants’ son moved back in with the defendants and brought his dog, Rocks. Rocks was kept in a pen in the backyard, unless the defendants’ son was in the backyard. In Rocks’ first week with the defendants, he snapped twice at two different people as they tried to pet and feed him.

Later that week, the plaintiff was visiting the defendants when she gently extended her hand for Rocks to sniff her. Rocks lunged at her, latching onto her arm and causing the plaintiff to fall to the ground. After she fell, Rocks then latched onto her thigh. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries as a result of the attack, and she filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants, claiming that the dog attacked her unprovoked.

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Earlier this month, one state’s supreme court issued an opinion in a medical malpractice case alleging that the defendant hospital was responsible for leaving a four-inch piece of tubing in the plaintiff’s body after a surgery. The case required the court to discuss the burden-shifting framework applicable in foreign-object cases, ultimately holding that the framework should apply in all cases of foreign objects being left in a patient’s body, and not just in those cases where the plaintiff cannot recall who left the object in his body.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was admitted to the defendant hospital for a colon resection surgery after it was discovered that he had several cancerous polyps. The surgery went as planned, and afterwards some drainage tubing was placed into the plaintiff’s body to help get rid of extra post-surgical fluids.

Prior to his discharge, a nurse came to remove the tubing. She pulled the tubing out, discarded it, and then sent the plaintiff home. Four months later, the plaintiff returned with complaints of pain in the area where the tubing had been. It was subsequently discovered that there was approximately four inches of tubing left in his body. Another surgery was scheduled and performed to remove the tubing.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman who fell while on the defendant’s property. Because the plaintiff failed to disclose the names of her expert witnesses, the court held that the experts’ testimony was properly excluded and summary judgment appropriately granted.

StaircaseThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell on a set of stairs at the defendant’s property. The details of the plaintiff’s fall were not at issue in the court’s opinion. However, in response to the plaintiff’s allegations, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s case was insufficient as a matter of law.

After the defendant moved for summary judgment, the plaintiff presented two experts who planned to testify about the condition of the stairs as well as industry safety standards. The defendant objected to the two experts’ testimony because the plaintiff had failed to disclose them at an earlier time. Under state law, either party can demand that all parties involved in a lawsuit release the names of all potential expert witnesses. The defendant had done this earlier in the proceeding, and the plaintiff did not release any expert names. Normally, this issue arises in the context of trial, but here it was at the summary judgment stage.

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Earlier last month, an appellate court in Wyoming issued a written opinion applying the “natural accumulation” rule to affirm the dismissal of a plaintiff’s slip-and-fall lawsuit against a middle school. In essence, the rule prevents a landowner from being held liable for injuries occurring from the natural accumulation of snow or ice on their property. The court’s most recent opinion explained that the application of salt or snow-melt, while it alters the original condition of the snow, does not aggravate it.

IceThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a middle-school student. After P.E. class, the plaintiff and some friends encountered a large patch of ice on school grounds. The students took turns running and sliding across the ice, seeing how far they could go and performing various “tricks” as they slid. On the plaintiff’s second turn, he slipped and fell to the ground, breaking a tooth and fracturing his nose.

The plaintiff, through his parents, filed a premises liability lawsuit against the school, arguing that it was negligent in allowing the accumulation of ice or failing to clear the ice. The trial court disagreed, determining that the school could not be held liable for the natural accumulation of ice. The plaintiff appealed.

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One of the key elements in any personal injury lawsuit is causation. In order to prove causation, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant’s allegedly negligent actions were the cause of their injuries. While this sounds simple in theory, in reality causation is a contested element in many personal injury cases. A recent case illustrates how a defendant may successfully argue that their actions, even if determined to be negligent, were not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Gas GaugesA Gas Explosion Seriously Injures the Resident

The plaintiff was moving into a new apartment that was owned by a co-worker. Prior to allowing the plaintiff to move in, the homeowner contacted the local gas company and arranged for the gas to be turned on. A technician from the gas company came out to the house, but upon doing so, he discovered that the gas line had a leak in it. The technician turned the gas back off and left a warning card with a 20-year-old girl who was dating the plaintiff’s step-son.

The warning card left by the technician explained that there was a leak in the system and that it needed to be fixed before turning the gas back on. The card also explained that the technician had left the gas off, but the meter was not locked so that a plumber could turn it back on once the leak was fixed. This was in violation of the gas company’s policy, which required that meters on homes with leaking gas systems be locked by the technician when they leave the property.

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