Brain Injury - Premises Liability

WRSH partner Bill Hepner, obtained a $1.2 million dollar settlement on behalf of a 52 year old man who was stuck in the head by the door when entering a bar at approximately 11 pm. William Hepner successfully argued that the door and entranceway were negligently designed. The bar door opened out over 2 ½ of the four steps leading to it, there was no landing, and an expert to supported the fact, that anyone who walked up the steps was at risk of being struck by the door. Additionally, the door had only a small glass window to see out, which was covered with stickers. The defendants, bar owner and building owners, argued that the entrance had been in use for many, many years without incident. The defendants also argued that plaintiff had a .24 blood alcohol level as indicated in his hospital record, which made him culpable in causing his own accident, and indicated that he might have simply fallen into the door, or at least could have reacted to the door to prevent such an injury. Defendants had an expert toxicologist who would have testified to the degree of impairment which would result from this amount of alcohol in his system. Plaintiff denied drinking the amount of alcohol necessary to reach such a blood alcohol level, and testified that he was at different bar prior, where he had only three drinks in three hours time.

The door struck plaintiff in the forehead with enough force to cause a skull fracture. He was knocked off of the steps, landed on his back, and the back of his head struck the pavement. Our client suffered a loss of memory regarding the accident, and although no one actually saw the door strike plaintiff, the injuries to the front and back of his head were consistent with the mechanism of injury.

The plaintiff sustained a depressed skull fracture, left frontal subdural hematoma, and was in a coma for approximately 3 weeks. The main injury was a traumatic brain injury, which included cognitive difficulties including memory loss, attention deficit, and concentration-reasoning deficits. He also suffered from post concussion syndrome, vertigo, and double vision. Plaintiff continued to treat for his problems from the time of the accident up to the time of the settlement.

Although most of the discovery in the case was done and it was on the trial calendar, it would not have come up for trial for about one more year, and there would have been a number of non-party depositions which would have taken place within that time.

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