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Defective Premises

This category includes injuries that occur in and around various buildings and properties. What may seem small—a faulty handrail, a cracked stair tread, inadequate lighting—may well cause serious injury. We will also fight for compensation for injuries that may be due to dangerous and preventable conditions, such as dangerous ice accumulations, inadequate fire escapes, faulty wiring, slippery floors, poor lighting, and missing window screens on high floors.

Case Summaries

Mediation wins compensation for hockey game spectator
Our client was struck in the head by a puck at a hockey game, leaving him with serious injuries. The hockey club at first refused us entry to their venue, and we had to obtain a court order before they would allow us in with an architect and a photographer. Once inside, we soon discovered that the clear plastic sheets used to protect fans from flying pucks were too low and clearly didn’t meet applicable standards. They had evidently been lowered to allow fans to feel closer to the action, but this also put those fans at more risk. We raised this issue in court, and referred to a published medical journal study of puck injuries by an emergency room physician. The hockey club’s defense, that our client wasn’t paying enough attention and that they hadn’t done anything wrong, was rejected. The case settled favorably at mediation without going to court for a trial.

Owners settle in furniture store display injury
Our client was an elderly woman shopping with her husband at a popular furniture store. The store featured a large display of reclining chairs that were banked like seats at a carpeted sports arena. Moving from one level of the display to another required negotiating a ramp, and our client, upon rising from a recliner on the lower level and stepping to her right, fell and shattered her hip over the low end of the ramp where it met the floor. The store tried to place the blame for the accident on our client, saying she should have seen the low end of the ramp next to the recliner. However, the entire ramp was carpeted on all sides with the same carpeting as the floor, making the low end hard to see. The ramp completely lacked visual cues as to its presence. Nor was there a rail, which would have not only helped an elderly person negotiate between levels but also shown the angle and presence of the low end of the ramp. During discovery we asked for and received documents from the store showing that two other women had fallen in the same way at the display. The store had settled those cases for small amounts of money before any lawsuit was filed. Presumably, the store unfairly blamed those women for their falls as well. Our case settled favorably at mediation for a substantial amount of money, which compensated our elderly client and provided her with funds to make her more comfortable in her later years.

Worker wins settlement after on-the-job accident
Our client worked for a building manager in a high-rise. One of his duties was to change the light bulbs that illuminated the lobby, a dirty, difficult job that most employees avoided. It was while doing this in a severely cramped crawlspace above the ceiling that he got stuck and severely damaged discs in his neck. He was so jammed in the enclosed area that he was unable even to reach his radio and call for help.

The owner of the high-rise argued that our client had been careless, but we were able to demonstrate that the light fixtures were not installed to code, which required more space for them to be serviced, and that the crawlspace didn’t provide a man of average size nearly enough room to do the required work. Further, the high-rise owner failed to provide the building manager with better equipment which would have allowed the bulbs to be changed from below by way of a scissors lift. The case settled favorably for our client providing him compensation for the ongoing pain he suffered.

Tenant falls down unsafe stairs, wins settlement
Our client broke her leg after falling downstairs at an apartment building in a large complex. Our investigation discovered that the rubber tread on the stairs had not been properly glued down and popped off when she stepped down on it causing her fall. We immediately inspected the apartment building with a professional photographer and got photographs of other defective stairs with unsafe treads in this and other buildings in the complex. We hired a professional contractor who explained the proper method of gluing down the rubber treads so they wouldn’t come loose and pop off over time. This helped us prove the defendant landlord in the case created the problem and should have known about it but did nothing to correct it. Our strategy also helped disprove the landlord’s unfair claim our client was careless and a known substance abuser who caused her own fall. Our client’s case successfully settled for a substantial amount, so compensating her for the serious injury she needless endured and proving she was in the right.

Man compensated after fall on deck stairs
Our client fell and injured himself badly when coming down a wooden exterior staircase. The front edge of a wooden stair broke off under his weight, causing him to fall. Typically, such a case will be defended by trying to place the blame for the fall on carelessness or misuse of the stairs, but when we went to examine the staircase, our expert found that the wood had not been well maintained and was badly deteriorated, and that checks and splits in the stairs were evident. Our client was successfully compensated at mediation without ever going to court for a trial.

Mediation brings compensation for injury entering pool
Our client was a New York City advertising executive vacationing with his wife and baby on Cape Cod. On a warm day he took the child into the motel pool. Having been a member of his college swim team, our client was comfortable in water and had swum in many pools.

While stepping onto the first step of the motel pool he fell from the edge onto the floor below. He managed to protect the child, but he himself suffered many injuries, including a fractured knee and a dislocated hip. He had no idea why he had fallen. The defense claimed he was inebriated and indulging in horseplay.

We inspected the premises with an engineer but were unable to find any slippery surface that may have caused the fall. However, upon examining more closely the area where the fall occurred, we noticed that the pool had been modified against code by the addition of an underwater concrete protrusion from the wall of the pool meant to serve as a seating area. Seen from above, the water refracted the image of the protrusion such that it appeared to be a concrete step closer to the surface than it was. It was this that had caused our client to stumble and fall.

The defense argued that this was an old pool and that the code had been changed after the modification. We conducted an exhaustive search of building permits at town hall and finally found one showing that the pool had indeed been modified after the code went into effect. The case then settled for a substantial amount of money at mediation which compensated our client for his injuries and lost earnings.

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Ballin and Associates LLC
Ballin & Associates LLC
Located at 16 Chestnut Street, Suite 130, Foxboro, MA 02035.
Phone: (800) 245-2052.
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