As a Central New York and Syracuse slip-and-fall lawyer, I review a lot of restaurant and store slip-and-fall cases. But I only agree to handle about 1 out of every 5 of them. Why? Let’s take a typical restaurant slip-and-fall-in-a-soda-spill case. In most such cases, you can’t prove that the restaurant was responsible for the spill that the client slipped in. Usually, the client has no way of knowing how long the spill had been there. A careless customer may have spilled it only a few minutes before the client slipped in it. Generally, unless we can prove that someone reported the spill to the restaurant (and they failed to clean it up) or that the spill had been there for a considerable period of time so that the restaurant should have noticed it by conducting reasonable periodic inspections, the slip-and-fall victim has no case. That’s basic New York slip-and-fall law!
I came across a recent case that demonstrates what a good slip-and-fall case looks like. A federal jury in Hawaii awarded a slip-and-fall victim $5.67 million dollars to compensate her for a serious spinal cord injuries she sustained at a McDonald’s restaurant.
Why was the McDonalds’ restaurant found responsible for her slip-and-fall injury? Plaintiff was able to prove that, at the time of the accident, the restaurant crew had failed to clean the floor for a significant period of time. As a result, a greasy film had formed at the spot where the woman eventually slipped and fell.
A restaurant such as McDonalds can avoid slip-and-fall liability quite easily by simply sending someone around to inspect and clean up the floor every half an hour or so, and by responding promptly to spills and messes it learns of. But when a restaurant fails to clean its busy floor surfaces for hours on end, and someone then slips and falls on the grimy, dirty floor, the restaurant can be held legally responsible.
$5.6 million sounds like a lot of money, doesn’t it? But believe me, you wouldn’t want it, not if you also had to take the injury that goes with it. This poor woman suffered a life-altering lower back spinal compression fracture that required two surgeries and rendered her permanently unable to work. She can only walk a few steps at a time and is almost entirely wheelchair-bound. Almost $3 million of the damages awarded went to compensate her economic loss — lost wages and medical expenses combined. The remainder was to compensate her for a life-time of high-intensity pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (life in a wheelchair is not a lot of fun!).
Justice was done in this case. And isn’t that what this law thing is all about?
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.