Trip and Fall Victim Recovers $150,000 due to Unsecured Sidewalk Grate

This case was previously cited in the Virginia Lawyers Weekly. Prior to this law firm's representation of Plaintiff, the case was previously tried to a defense verdict (by other counsel) but was successfully appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia (by other counsel), which reversed the verdict based upon introduction into evidence of prior alcohol use by plaintiff, which was irrelevant and prejudicial. The case was sent back for a re-trial, at which time this law firm was retained by Plaintiff.

Plaintiff tripped and fell on a dislodged metal drainage grate that was supposed to be flush with the sidewalk in a common area of a shopping center. Plaintiff's initial diagnosis was a sprained right ankle and left thumb but he then developed carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. Plaintiff eventually underwent two surgeries on both wrists and one surgery on his left elbow. His medical bills totaled $105,000. Plaintiff sued the landlord/owner and property management company of the common area where he fell. Plaintiff had a former employee of a nearby commercial tenant who testified at deposition that he notified the defendants on several past occasions that the protruding grate had been dislodged by vehicular traffic and requested that the grate be secured but defendants ignored his requests.

Defendant argued that the accident could not have occurred as plaintiff alleged and that any danger would have been open and obvious.

Plaintiff obtained a pre-trial motion in limine ruling that barred defendant from introducing into evidence any prior or subsequent accidents, injuries and medical treatment to unrelated body parts, as well as a prior conviction for a crime of moral turpitude and a medical record finding of prior alcoholism problems. As a result, the case settled after the first day of a three day jury trial in Fairfax County Circuit Court.