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ARTICLE ID 49158

$________ GROSS Trip and fall on curb defect at hospital emergency room - Bilateral wrist fractures with surgery - 40% comparative negligence.

Philadelphia County

The 76-year-old female plaintiff was visiting a friend in the defendant hospital’s emergency room when she claimed she was caused to trip and fall as a result of a curb defect. The defendant denied that the curb was dangerous or that it caused the plaintiff’s fall.

The plaintiff testified that her husband dropped her off in front of the defendant’s emergency room so that she could visit a friend whose husband was being treated there. The plaintiff claimed her foot caught and twisted on a spherical crack or chip on the edge of the curb, causing her to fall. The plaintiff introduced photographs of the defect, and claimed that the chip was ________" deep, 6" wide and extended 3" horizontally down the face of the curb. The plaintiff’s civil engineer testified that the chip was a tripping hazard and that the defendant failed to maintain the curb in a safe condition.

The plaintiff sustained bilateral wrist fractures as a result of the fall. She underwent open reduction and internal fixation of both wrists and wore casts for six months.

The defendant argued that the curb met all building code requirements and was not dangerous. The defendant argued that its emergency department was the second busiest in the state and no one had ever reported a prior trip or fall on the curb.

A Philadelphia Fire Department employee, who had just delivered a patient to the emergency room by ambulance, testified that he assisted the plaintiff to her feet after the fall. This witness testified that the plaintiff fell in the third parking slot some 10 to 15 feet away from the curb. A police office, who wrote an incident report after the plaintiff’s fall, testified that the plaintiff and her husband reported that the fall occurred in the third parking slot.

The defense also argued that the plaintiff suffered from reduced peripheral vision, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and double vision, and may have believed that she was near the curb. In addition, evidence showed that the plaintiff had peripheral neuropathy which caused numbness in her feet.

The defendant’s biomechanical expert testified that the lack of injury to the plaintiff’s lower limbs was consistent with her falling on a flat surface, not twisting her foot as alleged. This expert opined that the plaintiff’s explanation of how the fall occurred was physically impossible.

The defendant’s supervisor testified that semiannual inspections of the sidewalks and curbs are conducted, along with daily inspection by emergency personnel.

The jury found the defendant 60% negligent and the plaintiff 40% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________, including a $________ loss of consortium award to her husband. The verdict was reduced to a net award of $________.

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