Slip and fall

Posted Monday, August 02, 2010 by Ed Harper

The Slip and Fall

Recently, a King County jury awarded Keith Knappett $1.3 million for a slip and fall injury he sustained on a Metro bus. Mr. Knappett suffered permanent, severe leg injuries, needs a cane to walk, and faces possible amputation, according to his attorney. The crux of Mr. Knappett’s argument was that a yellow cautionary strip on the stairway edge, when wet, became slick as ice. It was for this reason, Knappett argued, he slipped as he did and suffered severe injuries as a result. The county maintains that the stairs are equipped with non-skid material and that they disagree with the jury’s verdict.

So how does one prove a slip and fall injury? According to tort law, a slip and fall plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent in their actions. Negligence requires the showing of: 1) a duty of care; 2) a breach of that duty; 3) causation; and 4) harm. In the previously mentioned case, the plaintiff easily satisfied parts 1 and 4. However, in order to show a breach of duty and causation, the plaintiff had to rely on expert witnesses, scientific data and the testimony of Mr. Knappett, to show that Metro had negligently built the buses with stairs prone to slip. In addition, the plaintiff had to prove to the jury that the slippery stairs were the reason that Mr. Knappett fell as he did and in turn, sustained the injuries he did. Obviously, as mentioned above, the plaintiff was successful in arguing these four elements of a negligence case and was heftily rewarded for their efforts.

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