Injuries from trip and fall accidents are often much more serious than initially thought.

In this case our client was injured on business property. She had visited the property to keep an appointment she had with her hairdresser, who was one of the commercial tenants in the owner’s building. Our client walked toward the salon along a wide, open concrete patio/sidewalk, directly adjacent to the building. The sidewalk was common to all tenants. The weather was clear, and the sidewalk was not wet. Two sections of the sidewalk were misaligned at an expansion joint, with an elevation difference just shy of one inch. As she walked along the walkway, the ball of our client’s left foot dropped over the top edge of the first misaligned section of concrete. This caused her to fall forward and land on her right knee, the top of her right ankle and her right foot.

Circumstances of the Case

The property owner admitted that the sidewalk was defective and dangerous as alleged, but her insurance carrier took the position that it was obvious, so they were not going to pay for any damages.

Not realizing the extent of her injuries, our client went to her hair appointment and then went home. She iced her ankle, did not walk on it and kept it elevated for a few days. When it failed to improve, she visited her primary care provider where she reported that she “fell forward onto right leg and has [had] burning right leg pain radiating from heel to low back since.”

She was sent home with pain medication and told to call back in two weeks if her condition did not improve. After several follow-up appointments, she was diagnosed with torn ligaments in her right ankle, which required surgery.

Unfortunately, her relatively routine ankle surgery caused her a severe nerve injury. She since required 8 additional surgeries to deal with the repercussions of the damage to her leg and ankle. However, because our client’s relatively minor surgery caused the severe nerve complications, the insurance company for the property owner felt that it should not be held liable for any such complications, even despite its insured causing our client’s need for surgery in the first place.

Actions Taken by Dwyer Williams Cherkoss Attorneys, PC

After filing a lawsuit, we prosecuted the claim diligently. At her deposition, the property owner admitted that the sidewalk was defective, that she had known it was defective, and that the defect was dangerous. We also proved out that it violated the applicable uniform building code, and further constituted a public nuisance under the local municipal code. At her deposition, the property owner also admitted that the defect caused our client to catch her foot and fall, and that our client was injured as a result. We worked with our client’s medical providers to show the true depth of her medical complications and future prognosis. We attended not one, but two, mediations and prepared the case for trial when it did not settle at mediation. However, the insurance carrier came to its senses shortly before trial.

Only after realizing that we were well prepared and more than willing to take the case to a jury, the case settled for $600,000 shortly before trial. In the end, it took five years of litigation to convince the insurance company it should pay anything at all.

If you or a loved one are in a similar situation, contact us today. We have successfully settled hundreds of cases in the state of Oregon.

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