Proper handling of premise liability “slip and fall” cases requires a lawyer to be familiar with the applicable building codes in order to prove liability and establish damages. Slips, trips, and falls caused by negligently maintained property or premises result in serious injuries to members of our community. Recognizing the failure to comply with required building codes is essential to the successful prosecution of a premises liability case.
A recent case handled by Michael Crowley of the Janssen Law Firm on behalf of an elderly woman injured in a church parking lot illustrates the point. Mr. Crowley’s client was attending a fund raising dinner in a hall on the church’s property during evening hours. The flood light on the roof of the building as well as a wall light were broken and non-operative at the time. She left the dinner to return to her car, parked in a painted designated disabled parking space.
The parking lot had high differentials between the blacktop and the sidewalk, pot holes, and the design itself of the disabled parking area failed to comply with the requirements of the building code for disabled access. All these factors resulted in our client falling and fracturing her hip, requiring hospitalization, hip replacement surgery, and an extended nursing home rehabilitation stay in an attempt to regain her ability to walk.
Mr. Crowley obtained professional engineering inspection and analysis of the incident scene by Pat Kaspari, P.E. of Winzler & Kelly, which documented multiple violations of the California Building Code, and proved that the property owners were responsible for the elder’s injury.
The case also presented challenges regarding the client’s age and poor health. Mr. Crowley obtained a court ordered special trial preference, to accelerate the trial date to insure that justice could be done for the client within her lifetime. The matter settled for $250,000 at a mediation five (5) days before the trial date.
The parking area and lighting systems on the property were upgraded, repaired, and made building code compliant as a result of this case. A significant number of the community members who use this facility are elders, and the positive changes prompted by this lawsuit will help protect all those seniors from the risk of injuries that befell Mr. Crowley’s client.
If you or a family member have sustained injury from negligently maintained premises or property, please contact our lawyers for a consultation and review of your matter.