GWC Injury Lawyers attorney Louis Anthony Cairo recently obtained a $300,000.00 settlement for a client who was seriously injured by falling down stairs at a private home after slipping on a loose carpet. The client’s fall was remarkably the second such incident that day, a fact that Mr. Cairo used to his advantage in arguing liability.
A Slippery Carpet
On September 12, 2015, the client, a woman who was 62 years old at the time, was leaving a friend’s house through the front door. As she attempted to walk down the front steps, she stepped on a carpet that had been placed on the top of the landing. Unbeknownst to the client, the carpet was “slippery,” meaning it tended not to stay in place when people stepped on it. Because of this defective carpet, the client tripped and fell down the stairs, which resulted in extreme injuries.
Extreme Injuries and Extensive Remedies
The client had to be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where x-rays revealed that she had suffered an extensive, dislocated fracture of her right ankle, one that a simple cast would not be able to correct. Within two weeks, she underwent an open reduction and (internal) open fixation, a major surgery that involved the implantation of hardware into her ankle.
“Unfortunately for my client,” Mr. Cairo explained, “her first surgery did not take. Less than two months later, she needed another one.”
The client underwent another open reduction and (internal) open fixation surgery, after which she had to undergo extensive physical therapy in an attempt to restore her ability to walk comfortably. During her recovery, however, she faced another setback. She was diagnosed with infection and malunion of the ankle. As a result, the client required a third surgery to remove the hardware in her ankle in June 2016, followed by more physical therapy. She was finally released from treatment in September of that year.
“Even after nearly a year of extensive medical treatment, though, my client’s life will never be the same,” Mr. Cairo said. “To this day, she still needs to use a cane to get around. That simple step out of her friend’s house changed everything for her.”
Two Incidents, One Day
The homeowner’s insurance company initially denied liability for the client’s injury. In doing so, the insurance company’s main argument revolved around the fact that there were two falling incidents on the defendant’s stairs that same day.
“On the date of the incident, the defendant threw a baby shower at his home,” Mr. Cairo explained. “Hours before my client fell down the stairs on the loose carpet, another woman reportedly slipped and fell on the same stairs.
“The insurance company’s position was that my client was made aware of the other woman falling. Therefore, she knew of the dangerous condition of the stairs, so she should have taken care walking down them so as not to fall.”
In addition to denying liability, the homeowner’s insurance company also used the fact that there were two incidents to minimize the amount of money available for Mr. Cairo’s claim, also known as the policy limits.
Policy limits refer to the maximum amount an insurance company will pay out for a specific claim. The policy limits are spelled out in a company’s contractual agreement with its policyholder, with the contract specifically stating that the company is not responsible for any amount of money beyond the agreed-upon limits.
“In my client’s case, the defendant’s homeowner’s insurance offered policy limits of $300,000.00 per incident,” Mr. Cairo explained. “However, because my client and this other woman fell on the same day, the company was arguing that it counted as one incident, meaning that the $300,000.00 would have to be shared between the two of them.”
Mr. Cairo’s Response
In response to the insurance company’s denial of liability, Mr. Cairo argued that while the two falling incidents may have seemed related, they were in fact quite different.
“While my client slipped on the loose carpet on the landing and fell while she was attempting to walk down the stairs,” Mr. Cairo said, “the other woman actually fell while she was walking up the stairs.”
Therefore, he argued, the client would have had no knowledge of the defectively loose condition of the carpet at the top of the stairs, a condition that also would not have been visible to her.
Mr. Cairo further argued that the fact that somebody had fallen on this stairs hours earlier meant that the defendant was clearly on notice that there was a defective condition at his front stairs. Therefore, he would have been liable for the client’s injuries.
Additionally, based on legal research, Mr. Cairo was able to persuade the insurance company that the two falls counted as separate incidents, so the full policy limits were potentially available to each plaintiff.
Based upon his arguments, and the extent of his client’s injuries, Mr. Cairo was able to successfully obtain for her the full policy limits of $300,000.00.
If you have suffered a personal injury because of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To schedule a free consultation with one of GWC’s personal injury attorneys, call our office 24/7 at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives.