Premises Liability Case Histories
Case History: Establishing Premises Liability Means the Establishment Had Knowledge of a Dangerous Condition
I handled a case against a chain grocery store. My client was in the store and he was by the freezer section and he slipped and he went up in the air just like you’d see in a movie or a comedy movie. He went up in the air and as he fell down, his back hit the edge of the freezer case.
He sustained severe injuries could no longer work at his career, which was a boat mechanic. The damages were substantial but the cause was really interesting.
The roof in the store had a leak in it and it only leaked when there was a substantial amount of rain. That is what caused the water to be on the floor.
This is an important detail because as I said before, water alone does not mean that the store would be liable. Liability exists when there is a negligent act that you can attribute to the store and that they’ve known about for a while.
This leak was known to the management of that store for quite a while and we found that out once we filed the lawsuit.
Case History: Resolving a Premises Liability Case against a Public Park
The other interesting case, I thought this was really interesting. Do you remember I told you about the lady who is in the bathroom at one of our parks and it was troweled concrete and she slipped and fell?
When I contacted the state, they denied that there are any problems with the floor and so that’s the issue of notice. Well, this particular park, when you go into it, you fill out a ticket and do the same when you leave.
Establishing Liability by Uncovering Previous Incidents of the Same Liability
The person who had told me that they’d never had a problem was the lawyer defending the state and the assistant attorney general. I don’t know whose idea this next part was.
I hope it was my idea—but I thought to contact the state and make them produce a couple of years of tickets of people that had gone into the park. I went down to the state capital and I spent a day going through these tickets.
I must have found 20 or 30 of people, who were injured slipping in both the men’s and the ladies bathroom. They had their names and addresses on them and we sent out letters to everybody. We received quite a few back that really were angry enough to write pretty scathing letters against the park for what had happened and how dangerous this situation was.
I mailed these to the assistant attorney general in the case and we settled, and we settled I’m happy to say, for a number of worthy of the really bad injury that happened to my client.
Many lawyers will not take premises cases. I think that they’re mistaken or that they don’t bother taking the time to listen and look for a solution to the issue of whether or not there’s a liability. In my experience, they are more often than not, viable cases.
Whether You Opt for a Settlement or Go to Trial, If You Work with the Right Attorney, Premises Liability Cases Are Often Viable Cases
Interviewer: What percentage of the time are you able to win these cases for each of your clients?
Bill: In terms of litigation, it’s not a question of winning; it’s a question of how much. The vast majority of cases are like any other case. I have a very good chance of settling. Although the money today is a little bit more conservative than it used to be.
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