Wrongful Death - Fall Injury

Plaintiff was a 62 year old woman who went to her friends’ house for a barbecue. Defendants had recently renovated a wooden deck and had not yet fastened handrails to the deck stairs. Plaintiff fell backwards as she was halfway up the steps and landed on her head. Although, she did not lose consciousness, a hematoma was discovered on her brain in the hospital. Surgery was performed shortly thereafter, however, plaintiff never regained consciousness after surgery. She died a few days later. Although medical records indicated that plaintiff never regained consciousness, and was not in any significant pain before she was operated on, the family would have testified that she squeezed their hands to indicate cognition during her stay in the hospital. It would have been up to a jury to decide, when faced with the medical evidence from the defendants, if this was possible. There were no lost earnings involved, and the only issue was whether and for how long there was conscious pain and suffering, which is necessary to sustain a recovery. The defendants also argued that because plaintiff had trouble walking prior to accident, help was offered to her which she refused. Plaintiff was survived by her husband and adult children. Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin partner, Bill Hepner, was unable to settle the matter at a mediation, and with diligent follow up, was later able to resolve the case with the insurance company.

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