Firm Settles Case on For Direct Selection of a Jury
On Tuesday, we settled a case involving an elderly woman who tripped and fell on her way to the doctor's office. The case presented some unique legal questions as two seperate property owners were involved, as well as the City of New York. The location where the plaintiff tripped and fell was in front of a private house next to the parking lot of a medical center. When the client came to our office and told us how the accident happened, we knew that the City of New York may be involved as the case involved a broken sidewalk.
Once we know that a sidewalk is involved, we file a notice of claim
with the Comptroller of the City within 90 days after the fall. Although discovery later revealed that the City of New York was not responsible, a Notice of Claim must still be filed. Once the 90 day time frame passes, it is very difficult to file a Notice of Claim without seeking approval from the court. Such approval is not often given without special circumstances. If we didn't file the Notice of Claim and we found out months later that the City of New York was responsible, we would be unable to bring a lawsuit and be unable to recover money for our client's injuries.
Ultimately, the City of New York was not responsible for the sidewalk as the home bordering the sidewalk was rented out. If the owner does not occupy the home and instead rents out the property for profit, the law states that he or she is responsible for injuries someone sustains on the sidewalk in the front of their home. We agreed to let the City of New York out of the case for $1500 and go after the remaining two defendants.
We discovered that a house used to stand on the parking lot for the medical center. When the defendant built the medical center, the house was demolished and a new sidewalk was poured all around the property. Instead of the new sidewalk ending with the property line, the new concrete was extended about 5 feet onto the adjoining property. It may have seemed like the neighborly thing to do at the time but years later, after the ground settled, it created a defetive sidewalk. Depending on how you look at it, the sidewalk in front of the house was either raised or sunken.
This case wasn't an ideal case to try as the plaintiff was very nervous about getting onto the witness stand. We tried our best to negotiate a settlement but since both the home owner and the medical center were pointing the finger of blame at each other, neither would offer any money.
Both eventually moved for summary judgment, asking the court to be let out of the case as they claimed they couldnt be held responsible. The judge denied the motion and the case was scheduled for a trial in January. When a definite trial date is set, insurance companies begin to take extra effort to try to settle the case. At a mediation
, the case settled for $80,000 with both the property owner and the medical center each paying the plaintiff $40,000 for her injuries. They finally accepted their responsibiloity for causing the plaintiff to trip and fall.
Category: Personal Injury
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