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Patient falls at hospital, wins premises liability suit

Most Ohioans go to the hospital with the expectation of being treated and healed. Patients do not anticipate a hospital visit to cause additional pain and suffering. But that was the case for one patient of a neighboring state who suffered a slip and fall injury while a hospital patient on hospital grounds.

The Philadelphia patient brought a premises liability lawsuit against the hospital and the jury returned a $350,000 verdict in his favor. The patient claimed that he injured himself when he fell on damaged concrete as he walked around the hospital grounds. He argued that he now needs spinal surgery, as he suffered both disc and ankle problems as a result of the fall. The plaintiff claimed that the cervical disc herniation he suffered could lead to paralysis.

The lawyers for the hospital argued that the hospital was not aware of the dangerous condition of the concrete walkway, but the jury did not believe their story. Defendants also tried to claim that the man's injury was tied to a pre-existing condition of lumbar stenosis, but the jury did not make that connection and felt that the hospital was responsible for the injuries resulting from the man's fall on the defective concrete walkway.

For slip and fall cases generally, a plaintiff must prove that a dangerous condition caused the accident and that the property owner was aware of the condition. This awareness element requires the defendant or property owner to have known of the condition and yet failed to fix it. Awareness also can be proven through a showing that the dangerous condition existed for so long that the owner should have known about it and should have tried to fix it. If the property owner is legally responsible for the accident, then the owner may be required to pay damages to cover injury-related expenses.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Phila. jury awards plaintiff $350K in premises liability case against Temple Hospital," Jon Campisi, Oct. 22, 2013

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