Verdict In Fairfax County – Merchandise Fell On Woman At IKEA

A  33-year-old woman, went to IKEA on her day off from work looking for a table top she could use as a writing desk.  She didn’t find anything in the main part of the store, so she went to the As-Is section, where IKEA displays for sale it is returned and damaged goods of all kinds.  There is a no-return policy for items purchased in the As-Is section, so customers must examine the merchandise before purchase.

She walked over to a large open cabinet where some table and countertops were stored on their ends.  There was nothing there that she wanted, so she turned to look for the way out of the section.  She had not touched anything.  Suddenly, several large countertops that had been leaning against the outside of the cabinet, and that weighed in excess of 350 pounds, fell on her crushing the pelvis.

IKEA’s method of displaying countertops that were too large for the cabinet was to lean them against the outside of the cabinet.  IKEA claimed this system was safe because there were bungee cords holding the countertops in place.  However, no one actually saw the bungee cor4ds after the incident, and one IKEA employee testified at trial that they did not know how strong the cords were and doubted whether they would have kept the large objects from falling.

She suffered fractures of her pelvis in two places and a fracture of the right side of her sacrum.  The first surgery she had was to insert a metal stabilizer so her pelvis would grow back together; the second surgery was to remove the metal hardware and screws.  There are two large, prominent scars on her lower back.  It has been almost three years since her injury, and she is left with pain every day.  This one active, joyful woman now moves slowly.  She doesn’t go hiking or climbing or bicycling or kayaking anymore.

She had a very good friend on the day she was injured, and they had planned to go hiking the next day, at which time they would have expressed their affection for each other.  That conversation didn’t happen for almost one year while she recuperated from her injury.  They got married in August 2008.  In addition to the pain has every day, she is concerned about getting pregnant and the strain the pregnancy will put on her body, plus how she will be able to care for the baby after it is born.

After three days of testimony, the jury returned a verdict in favour of her in the amount of $3,200,000 after two hours of deliberation.

Awarded: $3,200,000

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A Motorcycle Accident On The Shoulder Of A Highway

Motorcycle operator on the shoulder of a highway is killed when he is struck by a driver with cataracts who was returning home after her eyes were dilated by her eye doctor.  The case settled for the driver’s insurance policy limits plus personal assets.

A man had stopped his motorcycle off the highway at a wide shoulder where he was well away from the travel portion of the road.  There were no obstructions on the highway that would prevent a driver from seeing him.  Nevertheless, the defendant drove her car out of the travel lane and onto the shoulder and ran into.  He died after two weeks of intensive medical treatment.

The driver of the car, who had cataracts, had just left her eye doctor’s office where her eyes had been dilated.

He had a five-year-old daughter who depended on her father for support.  His medical expenses exceeded $155,000.

The driver had only $100,000 in liability insurance coverage on her car.  The case settled for her policy limits accidents plus $20,000 from her personal assets.  It was his daughter was the wrongful death beneficiary of her father’s estate.

A “wrongful death” occurs when a person is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another individual, company or entity. An action for wrongful death belongs to the decedent’s immediate family members (“beneficiaries”).

Awarded: Settlement $100,000 insurance and $20,000 personal assets

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Passenger In A Taxi Cab Struck By A Bus

A man that was a 65-year-old passenger in a Red Top taxi cab which was struck by a Metro bus in Arlington, resulting in moderate property damage to the taxi. Plaintiff suffered a detached retina in his left eye, as well as a herni­ated disc at C5-C6 and L5-S1.   A vitrectomy surgery was performed on his eye and ulti­mately. It developed a cataract in his eye as a result of the surgery.

No future surgery was recommended on the herniated discs.  The bus company’s orthopedic doctor claimed that there was no herniations present and that plaintiff suffered long­standing degenerative disc disease in both his cervical and lumbar spine. The bus company’s ophthalmologist claimed that he suffered from pre-existing lattice degeneration in his eye which predisposed him to injury.

He had medical expenses of $19,000 and his doctors predicted that he would have future medical expenses of $4,500.  The bus company offered $30,000 before trial.  The jury’s verdict was $495,300.

Awarded: Verdict $495,300

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Why You Have to Be ‘Perfect’ to Win a Slip and Fall Case

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, 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.

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 are not treated fairly by the law.

If you have been injured in a “slip and fall” or “pedestrian knock down” case, call us.

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Pedestrian Crossing The Street Was Hit By An Oncoming Car

Pedestrian crossing the street a few feet outside the crosswalk after dark was hit by an oncoming car.  The driver claimed he did not see him, although he was under a street light.  The issue was whether the pedestrian had lost the right of way because he was outside of the crosswalk.  The insurance company first said the incident was our client’s fault because he was not in the crosswalk; however, the case settled for $45,000 when it became obvious that our client’s being a few feet away from the painted markings on the street did not contribute to his injuries.

He was walking across a suburban street going from the grocery store to his apartment one evening after doing his shopping.  He was not in the crosswalk, but he was a few feet away from it.  The defendant did not see him even though he was walking under a street light.  His injuries included…

The driver’s insurance company claimed the incident was his fault because he was not in the painted crosswalk.  (If the injured person is even a tiny bit responsible for his own injury, he loses.  This is called contributory negligence and is a total bar to an injured person’s recovery.)

However, it soon became apparent that it was the driver’s fault because he had been distracted . . . and would have hit him even if he had been in the crosswalk.  That is, he is outside of the crosswalk was not a cause of the incident.

His medical expenses were $25,000.  The case settled for $45,000.

Walkers: Beware If You Are Injured While Walking, Winning Your Case Is Very Hard

Contributory negligence is the law.  The injured person must not have ‘contributed’ (done anything to cause) his own injury even in the slightest.  That law is very unfair to pedestrians.

An article about a client we recently represented.  She was seriously injured when she tripped over a defect in a sidewalk that had been created and was known by the business owner.

If you have been hurt while you were walking because of the carelessness of someone else, contact us. We can advise you on your rights.

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Child Killed In Crash, Not Wearing Seatbelt

A child died in December when the pickup truck in which he was riding crossed the centre line and hit an oncoming SUV head-on.  He was four years old.  The accident happened on near its intersection.  According to the Police, he was not wearing a seatbelt.

It is so easy to forget to put a child’s seatbelt on, but it is so important to do it every time.  Also important, especially for a child of four years old, is to put the child in a proper car seat. How to choose the right car seat for your child.  Seatbelts and child safety seats help save lives.

Read related law articles here.