Articles Posted in slip and fall accidents

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In 2008, a new high school was being built in Reading, Pennsylvania. Perrotto was the general contractor on the project and Reigel was hired to procure and install the structural steel for the building. Ralph Ferraro, an employee of Riegel was working with two other men in a five story, stairway tower. He was standing on a lift platform installing steel and when he attempted to secure a 300 pound piece, he lost his balance and fell 30 feet. He filed suit for his injuries against Perrotto and Turner, the lift company. Perrotto filed and was granted a request to bring Riegel into the suit. Perrotto claimed that in accordance with their subcontractor agreement, Riegel is required to defend, indemnify and hold harmless, Perrotto.

Reigel agreed that under the agreement they would have to take the fall if they or their employees were negligent, but argued that they were not required to indemnify Perrotto if Perrotto was negligent. Perrotto settled the matter with Ralph and is now seeking for Reigel to indemnify, or cover the settlement costs.

In order for a business, which has settled a case for personal injuries to recover the costs of the settlement from someone they have an indemnity contract with, they must demonstrate that the underlying claim against them was valid, that settlement was reasonable and that any attorneys fees were reasonable. Otherwise they would just settle the matter regardless of fault and seek payment from the other party.

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In 2011, after seeing a film, Eileen Sheil and her sister Brigid Smyth entered the ladies room at a movie theater in Newtown, Pennsylvania. As Eileen walked to the sink her show and cane slipped and she fell to the floor. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance after the fall. She didn’t see what she slipped on but believed it was water because after the fall, the seat of her pants was wet. The sisters had been to this theater many times and reported seeing water on the floor of the bathroom many times.

The bathroom had mats under the hand dryers but not by the sink and there was no “wet floor” signage. The theater’s associate manager, Henri Scott, responded to the incident and prepared a report which stated that there was no water on the floor when he inspected the bathroom after Eileen’s fall. The theater’s policy is to inspect the bathroom every thirty minutes. It was unknown when this bathroom was last inspected.

Eileen filed a lawsuit against the movie theater for negligence. Eileen was what is called a “business invitee” and therefore the movie theater owed her a duty to protect her from foreseeable harm. Under Pennsylvania law, to succeed on a claim of negligence against a business owner, Eileen must show that the movie theater: 1) knew or by reasonable care, should have known, of an unreasonable risk of harm to business invitees; 2) should not expect invitees to discover or protect themselves from the danger; and 3) failed to exercise reasonable care to protect the invitees from the danger.

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I was alarmed, as a Philadelphia injury lawyer, to learn that a Salvation Army thrift store in Philadelphia’s Center City collapsed today while it was full of employees and shoppers. According to Philly.com, the demolition of a building next door to the Salvation Army store on Market Street caused the store’s own building to partially collapse, trapping an unknown number of people in the rubble. At least 13 people were pulled from the store by rescuers by the early afternoon of June 5, and taken to a variety of hospitals with injuries that were largely or entirely minor. Law enforcement and city officials had not confirmed reports that one or two others have died. Speakers at a 2:30 p.m. press conference said there would be active searching for 12 to 24 more hours, and that they weren’t sure how many people could be left inside.

The building being demolished was a condemned four-story commercial building in an area that had long been considered blighted. The Philly.com article reported that witnesses heard a loud moaning “like a freight train” around 10:45 a.m., then saw one side of the building fall onto the Salvation Army store next door, partially collapsing it. Philly.com reported that the building under demolition shared a back wall with an apartment building, which also went down. People on the street outside reportedly were knocked off their feet, or ran across the street as the air filled with dust and debris. Some witnesses said that at first they feared the collapse was an act of terrorism, leading the police to reassure residents that this appears to be an industrial accident. Some witnesses were very upset; others rushed in to pull victims out of the building before firefighters could arrive.

Right now, even the newspaper has a lot of unanswered questions. But as a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer, I know a lot will depend on the answers to those questions. All of the people who were injured or lost property in this accident will be looking for someone to hold accountable, and that might be the subcontractor handling the demolition, the architect who hired them, individuals working for those businesses or some combination thereof. Sifting through all of these parties, and their insurance companies, will take time and care even for an experienced Philadelphia accident lawyer. Because any such lawsuit would also involve serious injuries that will be difficult to properly explain and value, it’s absolutely vital for victims and their families to have an experienced attorney on their sides.
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As a Philadelphia accident lawyer, I know that injuries on someone else’s property can be quite serious. These are sometimes called “slip and fall” injuries, and while a slip may sound minor, the fall can cause very serious injuries under the wrong circumstances. In Simpson v. Colonial Parking Inc., Robert Simpson fell from his bicycle after hitting a pothole in a parking lot belonging to Colonial. Simpson had been taking a short cut through the Wilmington, Del. parking lot at the time, not using Colonial’s parking services. He sued Colonial, arguing that Colonial had a legal obligation to maintain safe premises. The trial court dismissed his case, finding he was a trespasser on the lot rather than a licensee. On appeal, the Delaware Supreme Court found the issue moot, since Colonial had not engaged in the “willful and wanton conduct” required to make it liable in either case.

Simpson’s accident took place in July of 2009. He passed through an ungated entrance to the parking lot in Wilmington and unexpectedly bicycled into a “large pothole.” The pothole was marked with an orange traffic cone, but he said he noticed it only after the crash. He sustained personal injuries that were not described and eventually filed suit. His lawsuit claimed Colonial’s premises were unsafe, leading to his injuries and breaching a duty owed to him and other visitors by Colonial. At trial, the court held a hearing on cross-motions for summary judgment and found for Colonial. It ruled that Simpson was not a “licensee” (the legal status of a customer or another invited guest) on the property because he had failed to establish implied consent to his presence by Colonial. Instead, Simpson was a trespasser, it ruled, which means Colonial’s only duty was to avoid “willful and wanton” conduct — a lower standard than that for licensees. Simpson appealed.

The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment against Simpson — but not because Simpson was a trespasser. Rather, it said, the lowered “willful and wanton conduct” standard applies to licensees as well as trespassers. Under a 1996 ruling, Hoesch v. National RR Passenger Corp., Delaware expressly adopted the willful and wanton standard for owners and occupiers of commercial and industrial land. This is in contrast to the Second Restatement of Torts that the trial court (and many other states) relied on, which says landowners are liable to licensees if they know or should know of a dangerous condition and fails to fix it or warn licensees. Thus, the trial court reached the correct result even though it incorrectly believed the standard for licensees came from the Second Restatement of Torts. Reminding trial courts that Delaware has a different standard, the court affirmed the lower court’s summary judgment.

As a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer, I’m disappointed that our neighbors in Delaware apply such low standards to premises liability — the section of the law on which this is based. Here in Pennsylvania, the law distinguishes between the duty of a land owner or occupier to invitees, such as customers; licensees, who have permission to be there but no business relationship; and trespassers, who are there without permission. Not surprisingly, trespassers have fewer rights than the other two categories of visitor. Thus, whether Simpson was a trespasser or a licensee would matter very much in Pennsylvania, even though it ultimately didn’t matter in his home state. In general, Pennsylvania law requires land owners and occupiers to correct dangerous conditions or post warnings, or they are legally liable for any harm to visitors that results. As a Philadelphia injury lawyer, I handle these cases in a variety of contexts, including at businesses, private homes and after an act of violence.
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As a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer, I sometimes handle a special kind of slip-and-fall case known as a negligent security case. In an ordinary slip-and-fall case, the court applies premises liability law — the law making owners of properties open to the public responsible for making sure those properties are safe. This generally means removing hazards like icy stairways, large holes in the floor or live electric wires. In negligent security cases, the same principle is applied to violent crimes — premises owners can be held liable for failing to prevent violent crime, under certain circumstances. That was put to the test in the Mississippi Supreme Court’s ruling in Double Quick Inc. v. Moore. The ruling grants summary judgment to Double Quick, a convenience store company, after determining that violence against Mario Moore was not foreseeable.

Moore was shot after he intervened in a fight between George Ford and Cassius Gallion. Ford and Gallion “exchanged words” inside the store, and assistant manager Wytisha Jackson accompanied Ford outside to ensure that his young son got into the car safely. The fight continued outside as Mario Moore arrived. Moore intervened, threw a punch at Ford and accidentally hit Jackson, who went indoors to call the police. In the meantime, Ford pulled a pistol from his trunk and shot Moore to death. Four months later, the administrator of Moore’s estate, Dorothy Moore, sued Double Quick for negligence. In its motion for summary judgment, Double Quick argued that premises liability law applied and Moore failed to meet the standards of that tort, which requires proof of foreseeability. Moore cross-moved for summary judgment on negligence. The trial court ultimately denied both summary judgment motions but granted Double Quick leave to file this interlocutory appeal.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ultimately sided with Double Quick, finding that the case was more appropriately viewed as a premises liability case than a general negligence claim seeking to hold Jackson liable (and Double Quick vicariously liable) for failing to prevent the shooting. In order to make that determination, the court said, it must look at the facts. In this case, Jackson is not accused of shooting Moore, it said; in fact, Jackson was unaware of his presence at first. (That likely changed when he threw the punch.) However, the claim does spring from Moore’s presence on the premises, so the court found that it was property a case of premises liability. In order to win such a case, the high court noted, the plaintiff must show that Double Quick breached a duty it owed to Moore. While Moore met most of the criteria for the claim, the court said, the plaintiff did not show that Moore’s death was reasonably foreseeable. Indeed, it noted that Jackson voluntarily accompanied Ford and his son outside, and that no evidence of an “atmosphere of violence” was alleged on the site. Thus, it reversed the case and granted summary judgment to Double Quick.

This case is interesting to me as a Philadelphia injury lawyer in part because it shows how difficult it can be to prove a negligent security case. In Pennsylvania and most other states, it’s not enough to show that you were hurt by violent crime on someone else’s property; you must be able to show that the violence was easy to foresee. For example, if a gate is routinely left unsecured in a neighborhood known to be high in crime, an invasion of the premises may be reasonably foreseeable. In this case, Jackson’s decision to accompany Ford outside is being interpreted as a sign that she felt no threat from him, but it could just as easily be read in the opposite way — that she accompanied him outside precisely because she expected more fighting and thought her presence could prevent it. As a Philadelphia accident lawyer, I work hard to make my clients’ cases whenever this kind of dispute arises.
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As a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer, I was interested to see a recent ruling on a wrongful death claim stemming from a slip and fall accident in south Jersey. In Risko v. Thompson Mueller Automotive Group, Inc., the court ordered a new trial in the case because of what were described as “outlandish statements” to the jury by the plaintiff’s attorney. The trial judge originally interrupted the disputed statements to chastise the attorney and warn that he was considering declaring a mistrial, but ended up allowing the case to continue. After the jury awarded $1.75 million to Peter Risko, the dealership successfully moved for a new trial. The appeals court reversed that order, but the state Supreme Court reversed it again, saying the comments warranted a new trial.

The underlying case involved the alleged wrongful death of Camille Risko, who fell down in an car showroom in Hammonton, N.J., breaking her hip and leading to colitis and eventually septic shock that took her life. At the summation of the wrongful death trial, Risko’s wrongful death attorney compared Camille Risko’s experience to torture, noted that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution outlaws torture, and told the jurors to report to the judge any juror who found for less than $1 million because they would be “ignoring the law.” They found for $1.75 million. The judge granted a new trial on the dealership’s request, saying he should have declared a mistrial or cautioned the jury about the excessive statements. A divided Appellate Division reversed, and the dealership appealed. The New Jersey Supreme Court found that the inflammatory remarks warranted a new trial on damages only, because the trial judge failed to act immediately. Justice Rivera-Soto concurred and dissented in part, arguing that deference required a new trial on liability as well as damages.

As a Philadelphia accident lawyer, I sympathize with the plaintiff in this case. Because of this series of appeals, Peter Risko now has to wait even longer to put this episode behind him and find out whether he will ultimately be fairly compensated for the unnecessary, avoidable death of his wife. Slips and falls sound like no big deal, but for older people and people who land in an unlucky place, they can be crippling or even deadly. A broken hip would have been a hardship in itself for Camille Risko; the complications she later suffered could have destroyed her quality of life even further. That’s why it’s vital for business owners to avoid maintenance problems or sloppy construction site practices that create tripping hazards, take away handrails and create other problems for visitors to the site.
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As a Philadelphia accident lawyer, I was disappointed to read about the death of a 25-year-old man in an unusual accident. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the man died on the night of June 3 after he mistakenly stepped into an empty elevator shaft and fell five stories. The man was not named pending notification of his family, but he was reportedly a resident of the building on Chestnut Street in the Washington Square West neighborhood. The elevator is the older kind with a gated lift. Representative from the state Department of Labor and Industry said it would send an elevator inspector to the building June 6 to determine whether the elevator is safe for other users.

The article said the building itself is older, with external fire escapes as well as the old-fashioned elevator. Police said the light was out as well, and that the man didn’t realize the elevator was not at the fifth floor, which is the building’s top floor. The accident was reported just before midnight June 3 and the man was pronounced dead at Thomas Jefferson University Medical Center around 1:15 on June 4. The Department of Labor and Industry said it was working with law enforcement to keep the elevator out of service and “secure” until it could send an inspector. A city spokesperson added that the City Licenses and Inspections Commission has no authority over elevators.

One thing that struck me about this story, as a Philadelphia injury lawyer, is the apparent lack of safeguards against just this kind of accident. Elevators have safety rules, which is why the state has elevator inspectors, but it’s not clear whether any safety rules were broken in his case. Nonetheless, if a 25-year-old man can walk into an elevator shaft without noticing that the elevator isn’t there, as this story suggests, it’s easy to imagine unattended children or an impaired person doing the same. If the management of this building failed to install required safety equipment, or failed to maintain the light in violation of regulations, it could be considered legally liable for the accident. And that would entitle the victim’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which could help them defray the costs of the death as well as compensate them for a loved one lost too soon.
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It’s been a rough winter for those in in Philadelphia and along the entire East Coast. Record levels of snow, ice, and freezing rain have fallen throughout the region and become quite the challenge for those who live, work, commute, and walk around the Philadelphia area.

This week, several inches of ice and freezing rain fell across a large region of the country again. This storm left several business parking lots, town sidewalks, and streets icy and unplowed as already cash strapped businesses slacked on taking care of the ice on their property. With so many storms this year, several businesses are running low on snow and ice removal funds.

A Philadelphia injury lawyer advises you to be careful, as what this could mean to you or a loved one is a slip and fall accident as a result of ice or slick snow. If you have become injured due to a slip and fall on ice or snow you may be able to receive compensation from whoever is determined to be responsible.

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According to widely cited sources, 450,000+ Americans suffer from some form of spinal cord injury (a.k.a. SCI). 10,000 or so new cases of SCI develop every year, and more than 4 out of 5 victims are healthy young men between the ages of 16 and 30. This blog post will touch on the basic causes and consequences of SCI and connect you with a trustworthy and experienced Philadelphia injury lawyer who can answer your burning questions about how to get compensated for your SCI-related medical bills and how to deal with the overwhelming logistics (e.g. insurance forms) that you are struggling with.

Causes of SCI
Common causes included car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, violence and sports injuries, and falls. Diseases such as spina bifida, Friedreich’s ataxia, and botched surgeries can also cause serious damage to the nerves running from the base of your brain down to your pelvic region.

Classifications of spinal cord injuries
A good rule of thumb is that the higher up on your spine the injury is, the more widespread your damage will be. So if you suffer an injury to your C1 vertebra in your neck, you might expect massive loss of function, including perhaps paraplegia or quadriplegia. If you suffer damage to your sacral vertebrae — that’s the lower part of your back — you will still suffer serious effects but perhaps not as serious as you would get from cervical nerve damage.

There are essentially four regions of the spine: Cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Sacral nerve damage is associated with loss of function and paralysis of your hands, diaphragm, head, wrists, biceps, neck, and triceps. Damage to the thoracic spine can cause function loss to the abdominal muscles and chest muscles. Lumbar injury can result in loss of function of leg muscles. And sacral damage can yield sexual dysfunction and problems with bowel and bladder control.

Spinal cord injuries can be classified as “incomplete” or “complete.” These classifications are loose: essentially they refer to your level of voluntary control and sensation in specific regions. A complete injury means that you’ve totally lost sensation and control over the injured region. Incomplete means that you’ve only lost partial control. Obviously, this classification is in some sense artificial. Some complete injuries can actually reverse themselves. And incomplete SCI injuries range from minor and inconvenient to life altering and debilitating.

What to do now?

Your first priority should be to get the most appropriate medical, surgical and rehabilitative help you can, as quickly as you can. Unfortunately, nerve damage is very hard to reverse, and it can take a while for injuries to the spine to “show up” in the form of loss of function or side effects. Moreover, if you don’t follow a rigorous and carefully structured rehabilitative plan, you could wind up exacerbating your injury (making it worse) and causing additional damage.

On the other hand, medical science is rapidly evolving, and physicians and clinicians are constantly trying out new breakthrough technologies and procedures to provide additional function and ease the pain of SCI.

In terms of getting compensation from liable parties who caused injury to you – such as a careless surgeon, a fatigued trucker, or an overly aggressive sports opponent – your best bet is to consult a Philadelphia accident lawyer or Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer as quickly as possible. Or, if you are too sick and injured, delegate a relative to contact an attorney for you. If you lack good representation from the get go, you may accidentally say or do things that could impede your ability to collect much needed money to pay for your spinal rehabilitative surgery, time off of work, pain medications, and so forth.
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Last Sunday, 23-year-old Stewart Haverty fell to his death at a football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. The young man allegedly had gotten up onto the colonnade level to have a smoke, when he fell 35 feet onto a flat roof on the west part of Soldier Field. He died of multiple injuries just an hour after the fall, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Witnesses to the fall said they saw Haverty jump over a 3-foot barrier – apparently to have some privacy while he smoked. (Soldier Field prohibits smoking). The young man’s father discussed the tragedy with Fox Chicago News: “Apparently on his way trying to make it that ledge, he slipped or lost his balance…or, for all I know, he could have slipped while trying to light the cigarette.”

Story of the half-time accident quickly made regional headlines. In addition to the tragic and surprising circumstances of the fall; the story raises interesting legal questions about premises liability law. As a Philadelphia accident lawyer might tell you, different property owners owe different “duties of care” to visitors and patrons. Depending on your classification as an “invitee” “licensee” or “trespasser,” a property owner will have different obligations to you. Football fans who enter a football stadium should be protected from roof top falls. But this doesn’t mean that a football stadium or any other entity can be legally held responsible for your problems if you stray into a prohibited area or hop a clearly marked barrier. All that said, as a qualified Philadelphia injury lawyer will note, even individuals who trespass can successfully sue property owners under certain circumstances.

The general point here is that premises liability law can get exceptionally complicated and surprisingly nuanced. So if you or someone you care about has been hurt or injured – you fell on an ice coated parking lot at a Philadelphia shopping center, for instance – it’s at least worth your time and energy to consult with an attorney about possible options you may have to collect money for things like your pain and suffering, your medical bills, your rehabilitation, medications and surgery, and time off of work.

Likewise, a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer can provide essential services if you’ve been mistreated or misdiagnosed at an area hospital, birthing center, or other medical facility.
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