Can You File a Premises Liability Claim against a Municipality?
Interviewer: If someone falls on a public sidewalk, could they sue the city for that?
Bill Levinson: Absolutely. I’m working on one right now against the city of Spokane. When a sidewalk heaves, it’s the city’s responsibility to make the walkways safe. I handled a case against the city of Seattle where pedestrians had to walk downhill and they had a manhole cover that was smooth. My client fell and severely broke her ankle.
The Government Does Not Have Immunity from a Premises Liability Claim
The city was originally sued and the city, it joined in the lawsuit the contractor that the city had hired to put in all of these covers. The interesting thing was that almost throughout the entire city they had put traction substance on the covers and this was one of the few that did not have it.
The government does not have immunity for any claim with a couple of exceptions and definitely not for premises claims. In fact, one of the leading cases in the State of Washington on this subject was a suit against the liquor control board.
They failed to clean and make safe its parking lot in the middle of winter. I’ve handled that same case against a dealership where there was a patch of ice my client slipped on in between cars as he was following a salesman.
I’ve handled a case against a park, a restroom in Eastern Washington where the lady’s bathroom was troweled concrete and when there was water on it, it was like a skating rink and my client broke her shoulder when she fell.
Can You Predict How Much Compensation You Will Receive in a Premises Liability Case?
Interviewer: In a premises liability case, what would that individual be entitled to?
When It Comes to a Monetary Award, What Individuals Expect, What They Settle for and What Juries Award Are Three Different Figures
Bill Levinson: What I think they’re entitled to and what we settle for and what a jury awards are three different things. This is because people are unique. The elements that go into deciding how much a fair settlement amounts to is first the particular individual and second the extent of the injury.
The third is the medical bills and the fourth is whether or not they have any continuing symptoms. The issues of liability are factored in also.
Without knowing all of those things, to give you an average or to give you any number at all would be a pure guess, which is useless to anybody involved in this type of injury.
Pain and Suffering: In a Trial, Juries Are Instructed to Consider an Individual’s Loss of Enjoyment of Life as Well as the Issue of Pain and Disability
Interviewer: What would my compensation cover? Would it cover mental distress for example?
Bill Levinson: It’s not exactly mental distress, but included in a jury instructions will be a loss of enjoyment of life and there are other emotional injuries associated with it. They are asked to consider factors surrounding the issue of pain and disability. That subject is factored in but it’s not a cause of action in and of itself.
Interviewer: Are there any examples that someone could sue for emotional trauma?
Bill Levinson: Not with regard to premises, but for example, a parent who watched their child get run over would be an example of an individual that experienced emotional trauma.
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