Try Or Settle? Should Plaintiff Settle Her Trip And Fall Case When She Has A Fractured Leg Requiring Surgery?
Our injured client, a 61-year old female home attendant, tripped and fell, when an employee at the St. Barnabas Hospital Occupational Therapy Department unthinkingly placed a step stool directly behind our client’s feet, just as our client’s back was turned to help her own patient get ready for occupational therapy. Our client took one step back and tumbled right over the step stool.
Due to the clear severity of our client’s injuries, she was immediately taken to St. Barnabas’s Emergency Room with excruciating pain in her left leg. In fact, she had suffered a fracture of the left femur, a broken thighbone. The thighbone is one of the strongest bones in the body, but the fall was so forceful and broke the bone so badly, the doctors at St. Barnabas told our client only surgery could repair it.
The doctors however would not perform the surgery, because our client’s leg was severely swollen around the fracture site. As a result, her fracture did not heal properly and she was left with pronounced shortening of her left leg. This in turn led to difficulty walking, standing, working and performing even the simple usual and customary daily activities of living, like shopping and cleaning. Later, our client was forced to have a total left knee replacement to alleviate the leg shortening. Despite the surgery, our client suffers from continuing pain, as well as limitation and restriction of motion in her leg. She was never able to return to work as a home health aide because of the injuries.
We sued St. Barnabas Hospital on her behalf for damages, including past and future pain and suffering, lost earnings, and extensive medical bills. We argued that St. Barnabas as a matter of law was responsible for the acts of its employee and the employee was negligent and created a trap when he placed the step stool directly behind our client without giving her any warning or notice whatsoever. She never had a chance.
Prior to the trial, the lawyers for the defendant St. Barnabas Hospital offered plaintiff $50,000 to settle the case. This would never compensate her for her losses, and she rejected the offer, deciding instead to place her trust in us and the jury system.
Michael Glynn, Esq., of our office, who has many years extensive experience trying personal injury cases, tried the case in the Supreme Court Bronx County before a judge and jury. Our client testified. The testimony of the defendant was read into evidence. The witnesses testified. Mr Glynn also called our client’s treating doctor, Dr. Louis Rose, to testify.
Dr. Rose testified that the fractured femur, the left leg shortening, and the subsequent total left knee replacement were all caused by the trauma suffered by our client as a result of the accident. Dr. Rose explained that these injuries were permanent, that our client would have significant pain for the rest of her life, and that she could never return to work as a home health aide.
The defendant’s medical expert agreed with Dr. Rose that plaintiff sustained a fractured femur that needed surgery to repair. He agreed with Dr. Rose that the plaintiff sustained a left leg shortening because the St. Barnabas doctors never did the necessary surgery. However, he disagreed that the total knee replacement was related to the accident; he said, the plaintiff was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before the accident and it was this condition that necessitated the knee replacement. The jury disagreed with St. Barnabas and agreed with the plaintiff.
The jury deliberated for over four hours and found the defendant St. Barnabas Hospital 100% responsible for the accident. The jury understood the extent of plaintiff’s pain, suffering and limitations and compensated her with $2.4 million in damages.
While our client will never be whole again and will always suffer from the effects of the fall caused by St. Barnabas, a Bronx jury vindicated our client. She made the right decision going to trial.