An ill-maintained rail caused a fall from a stairway of 15 feet resulting in quadriplegia for a 19-year-old man. It was a tragic ending for a visit to his sister’s apartment. While descending an exterior flight of steps to the deck below, the railing failed. Part of the way down the stairs, the young man leaned on the rail while reaching to pet a neighbor’s dog. When he landed on the ground below, he knew instantly that he sustained a serious injury: he was unable to move his body.
Emergency personnel transported the man to the hospital emergency room. It was determined that during the fall, he crushed the 5th vertebrae. This injury left him paralyzed from below the neck.
The man (plaintiff) and his attorneys filed suit against the landlord based on a claim that the handrail was not properly secured. This is a violation of the Virginia Maintenance Code, which had been adopted by the municipality.
In addition, the plaintiff and his attorneys claimed that the landlord had a common law responsibility to the plaintiff. Common Law requires that the plaintiff maintain the property in a condition that was reasonably safe for visitors. Common Law also requires the landlord to warn visitors of any unsafe condition that was known or should have been known.
The plaintiff’s attorneys introduced an architect as a liability expert. This architect stated that the landlord had not honored the requirements of the maintenance code. The architect stated in addition that the landlord was negligent in maintaining the safety of the handrail. Therefore, he said, the stairway was a hazard to the safety of all on the premises. Finally, he stated that the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries was due to the condition of the stairway.
A life care expert for the plaintiff offered a summary of the anticipated needs of the plaintiff in light of the quadriplegia. The care expert also presented the expenses that could be expected for the plaintiff during the remainder of his life.
The case was settled out of court for $1,000,000, the limits of the landlord’s insurance coverage.
After the settlement, money was used to repay a Medicaid lien. The remaining funds from the settlement were placed in a special needs trust. Placing the funds in trust protect the plaintiff’s access to public assistance.
Every property owner has a responsibility to maintain their property in a condition that is safe for residents and guests. Failure to maintain the premises safely or to warn people of the unsafe condition of the premises makes the owner liable for injuries that occur on the premises as a result.
If you or a loved one is injured due to the unsafe condition of the premises you are visiting, and through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to fair compensation for your hurts and harms. If you need to have a case assessed or you wish to engage legal representation, call Altizer Law, P.C., in Roanoke, VA. For thirty years, Bettina Altizer has been trusted with premises liability and other personal injury legal cases. She and her team are known as compassionate and aggressive in pursuing the interests of each person.