Why You Have to Be ‘Perfect' to Win a Slip and Fall Case in Virginia
Contributory Negligence Strips Injured People of Reasonable Compensation
From the time we are born, our body is trying to figure out every which way it can to get us to move. Babies delight grownups when they first get all their muscles to move in the right way so they can roll over and then when they can crawl and then walk. Just like all creatures, we are made to be mobile.
But, in Virginia, people who are injured while they are walking have a very hard, almost impossible, task of winning a personal injury case. For instance, if you are walking along and fall into a hole or are tripped up by a defect in the sidewalk or trip over a piece of merchandise that has been left in the aisle of a store or slip on liquid soap that has dripped on the floor, you must be almost perfect in your own behavior, even if the business created the hazard that caused the fall.
Let me tell you about a case we recently handled.
We represented a very nice woman who was severely injured (broken ankle) when she tripped over a defect in the sidewalk that surrounded the service station where she had taken her vehicle to be inspected. We took the case, in spite of the legal hurdles we faced, because we liked her and believed she had nothing wrong. She had been told by an employee of the service station to walk to the back of the station along the sidewalk where she fell. As she was walking in the back of the station, she saw orange markings on the edge of the sidewalk and interpreted them as some sort of warning. So, she made sure to keep away from the edge. What she could not see, however, was that there was a >1" drop off where she was walking. Her foot dropped off the end of the sidewalk and she fell. The business owner had created the hazard (basically, it was a cut out of the sidewalk where a ramp was built so cars could be driven across the sidewalk into the service bay), knew it could cause falls (there were orange cones that usually were in place to warn people of the drop off - they weren't in place the day our client fell), and she had been told to go to the back of the station along that sidewalk (i.e., she was not on the sidewalk without permission).
We settled her case before we had to prepare for a trial. Unfortunately, the amount of the settlement did not reflect the seriousness of her injury. It did, however, reflect the nature of the law in Virginia.
You see, almost everyone walks. We are taught as young children that we must watch where we are walking. Practically everyone has tripped over something in their lives. When contributory negligence rears its ugly head and jurors are told that the plaintiff cannot have contributed to her injury in any way, regardless of how careless the business owner is, injured plaintiffs in Virginia are not treated fairly by the law.
If you have been injured in a "slip and fall" or "pedestrian knock down" case, call Weiner, Spivey & Miller. We are experienced in this complicated area of the law and can evaluate the facts to determine if you have a case. Call us at 703-273-9500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through our website http://www.wsminjurylaw.com.