Earlier this month, an appellate court in Connecticut issued a written opinion that will be of interest to victims of New Mexico slip-and-fall accidents because it illustrates the type of evidence necessary to establish liability in these types of cases. In this case, the plaintiff’s case was tried before a judge without a jury. After hearing the evidence on both sides, the judge entered a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor for approximately $108,000. The defendant appealed the lower court’s ruling to a higher court.
The Plaintiff Stubs Her Toe on a Hospital Sidewalk
The plaintiff was at the defendant hospital visiting a loved one when she stubbed her toe and fell while walking on the sidewalk immediately outside the hospital. In her deposition testimony, the plaintiff explained that she did not know what caused her to trip at the time, only that the front of her toe slammed into something on the ground and that she subsequently fell. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff sustained a broken toe and other injuries.
The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant hospital, claiming that the hospital was negligent in maintaining the walkway. The plaintiff presented two reports from witnesses, explaining that there was a small but visible divot in the pavement in the immediate area where she fell.
In response to the claim, the defendant argued that the defect was “trivial” and that it constituted an unforeseen hazard under the law for which the defendant should not be held liable. The defendant also claimed that the plaintiff presented insufficient evidence to prove that the divot was what actually caused her fall.
The appellate court affirmed the verdict in favor of the plaintiff, finding that sufficient evidence was presented to allow the lower court to rule in her favor. The appellate noted that, since the parties opted not to empanel a jury to hear the case, the judge was sitting as the fact-finder. Thus, the judge had a good deal of discretion in making his decision and would only be reversed by the appellate court if he made a legal error or if the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law.
The appellate court held that no legal error was made and that the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient. The court pointed to the two reports submitted by the plaintiff, explaining that there was a small but visible divot in the pavement in the immediate area where she had fallen. The court was not concerned that the plaintiff did not see the divot herself, explaining that such an observation was not necessary to her claim.
Have You Been a Victim of a Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured on the property of another person, business, hospital, or government entity, you may be entitled to compensation. The skilled New Mexico personal injury attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have decades of experience preparing and litigating all kinds of New Mexico premises liability cases. We offer free consultations to accident victims with no obligation to continue on with your case. Call 505-889-FINE to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Refuses to Consider Plaintiff’s Alleged Error on Appeal Because It Was Unpled Below, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, September 8, 2017.
Court Finds Driver’s Act of Waving Plaintiff Forward to Make Left Turn Was Not the Cause of Subsequent Accident, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 25, 2017.