A worker in Natick, Massachusetts received $100,000 in compensation after suffering a concussion and a severe back injury in a slip and fall incident. The settlement was obtained in the third-party negligence action against a property owner and restaurant who were alleged to have caused the dangerous ice to form on the sidewalk where our client slipped.
Hazardous Ice Caused the Fall
In January of 2018, our client was on the job working in Natick, Massachusetts. A restaurant in town had a water pipe burst in their building that caused severe water damage. It was alleged that the water flowed out of the building onto the sidewalk in freezing conditions. This water then froze on the sidewalk and entrance way to the building creating a hazardous condition. The ice was left to remain, untreated on the sidewalk.
On a cold January morning, days after the water pipe burst, our client was walking past this building and slipped and fell on the dangerous ice. The fall caused this worker to strike his head on the pavement and injure his lower back.
Luckily, there was a co-worker nearby, who ran over and helped our client up to his feet and safely off the ice. This co-worker also took photographs of the dangerous ice that caused the fall. These photographs were very useful later in the case, which is why we always recommend that accident victims take photographs after an accident.
Our Investigation Yielded Helpful Evidence
As with every case, when we are retained to help an accident victim, we always begin with an investigation into the facts and circumstances of how the accident happened. At first, the source of the water/ice was unknown or who was responsible. After locating and speaking with witnesses and obtaining specific records, we learned about the water pipe burst.
We then obtained town records from the local fire department and board of health office. These documents revealed the severe water damage that was caused by the pipe burst. One witness was a former employee of the restaurant that was operating within this building. She explained how the water from the pipe burst flowed into the vestibule and out onto the sidewalk. Based upon the evidence, it was alleged that the property owner and restaurant were negligent.
Brief Summary of the Injuries and Damages
Our client felt immediate pain in his back and was very dazed from striking his head on the ice and pavement. This client was subsequently diagnosed with a head injury / concussion. The concussion became a significant issue for this worker. The concussion symptoms continued for several weeks. This worker’s treating physicians then opined that he developed post-concussive symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, memory, and sleep issues. Over time and with therapeutic treatment, the head injury slowly improved.
To address his lower back injury, our client initially underwent conservative treatment. Following extensive physical therapy and several series of injections in his back, his orthopedic spine doctor recommended a back operation. He subsequently underwent a decompressive laminectomy and spinal fusion. A short time after the surgery, this client completed another course of physical therapy. In the end, the surgery and subsequent therapy was a success, but left this client with some residual pain and discomfort.
The cost of the treatment, including the surgery, was expensive. Throughout the treatment process, our client was out of work and unable to earn wages. Although the workers’ compensation insurance company covered the cost of medical treatment and paid a portion of the injured worker’s lost wages in the form of temporary total disability benefits, these damages were still considered in determining a fair value of compensation in the third-party negligence action.
About the Settlement of the Case
The general liability insurance carrier initially refused to accept any responsibility on behalf of their insured, the property owner and restaurant. Following many detailed discussions and production of the evidence our office obtained during our investigation of this accident, the insurance company was willing to negotiate and made an offer of settlement.
The initial settlement offer was, in our opinion, very low and not reasonable taking all matters into consideration. The insurance company argued comparative negligence on the part of our client as well as other factors. At that point, we filed a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of our client.
Shortly after filing suit, the insurance company increased their offer to $100,000, which is what our client was willing to accept. Since this case involved workers’ compensation payments, the workers’ compensation insurer had a lien on the slip and fall settlement. We were able to negotiate a significant reduction in the workers’ compensation lien to net our client the maximum amount of the settlement funds.