Court Upholds Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Verdict over Defendant’s Sufficiency Challenge

When someone is injured in a Virginia slip-and-fall accident and files a personal injury case seeking compensation for their injuries, the case will be heard by either a judge or a jury. Even if the case is heard by a jury, the judge will have an important role throughout the process by making determinations of which evidence will be presented to the jury, which substantive rules apply, and how the jury is instructed upon deliberation.

In Virginia personal injury cases that are heard by a judge, the judge will have the final say in the ultimate determination of liability. In some cases, a different judge may make certain pre-trial evidentiary rulings in order to not unduly sway the mind of the judge hearing the case. Once a judge makes a determination as to liability, that decision will be final; however, the losing party may have several appealable issues that can be brought to the attention of a higher court. A recent slip-and-fall case illustrates a defendant’s unsuccessful attempt at reversing a judge-issued verdict.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff tripped on a defect in the sidewalk when exiting the defendant hospital. As a result of her fall, she broke her toe and sustained a serious back injury. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the hospital, arguing that the hospital was negligent in failing to properly maintain the sidewalk. As a part of her claim, the plaintiff had to establish that her injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of allowing the defect in the sidewalk to remain. Additionally, she had to establish that the defect in the sidewalk was the actual cause of her injuries.

The plaintiff presented the testimony of several witnesses and provided photographs of the sidewalk. The photos showed that there was a visible crack in the sidewalk. A judge heard the case and issued a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. However, since the judge determined that the plaintiff was 40% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff’s total award amount was reduced by 40%.

The defendant appealed the judge’s ruling, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the plaintiff’s injury was reasonably foreseeable and that the defect in the sidewalk was the actual cause of her injuries. However, the court rejected the defendant’s claims, finding that the plaintiff provided sufficient proof that the defect was visible and that it was reasonably foreseeable that someone could trip while walking on the sidewalk. Furthermore, the court explained that, given the nature of the defect and the lack of evidence suggesting anything else caused the plaintiff’s fall, enough evidence was presented to allow the trial judge to find that the defect was the cause of the plaintiff’s fall.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Virginia premises liability lawsuits can be complex and often require the testimony of several witnesses. The dedicated Virginia injury attorneys at the law offices of The Schupak Law Firm have extensive experience successfully handling all types of Virginia personal injury claims, including slip-and-fall cases. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

See More Blog Posts:

Summary Judgment in Virginia Personal Injury Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, July 5, 2017.

NFL Brain Injury Update: CTE More Common than Originally Thoughts, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, August 8, 2017.

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