Sharon had a seemingly long-shot case: she fell on invisible black ice in a parking lot and re-injured a knee she’d already had several surgeries on. She came to us from another lawyer who doesn’t handle injury cases and recommended me to her.
We knew she had a tough case, but after some investigation, we felt we could prove the parking lot owner’s carelessness caused her injuries. Plus, she was a nice lady who made a believable witness, and most importantly, she’d helped herself.
Sharon Falls, But Remembers to Help Herself Up
On January 17, 2018, a snowstorm blew through Spartanburg. Three days later, Sharon arrived at an office to pay her bill for a storage building she rents. She parked her car right in front of the office doors.
When Sharon got out of her car to pay the bill, her feet hit black ice and flew up from under her. Her boyfriend James witnessed it. As she slipped, she felt her knee wrenching around, making a pop.
Despite the agony and confusion of the moment, Sharon and James did two extremely important things:
- They immediately reported the fall to the business owner. When James paid the bill, he asked the employee inside if she saw the fall. The employee said, “I did, but there’s nothing I could do.”
- They took pictures of the scene. It showed the sidewalk was entirely clear of ice.
The Pictures Set the Stage for Our Case
Sharon’s picture of the ice-free sidewalk set the stage for us to prove the business gave her the expectation the parking lot had also been cleared of ice. That explains why she got out of her car without expecting ice to be in the parking lot. This fact stripped the defense of comparative negligence that Sharon caused her injuries because she wasn’t careful enough.
We still had to prove what the business did wrong—why the employee was mistaken in shrugging it off with, “There’s nothing I could do.” (By the way, that’s a chief defense offered in these cases.)
Here’s how we proved the slip and fall accident was preventable, and why the business was careless:
- They didn’t do anything to clear the black ice from the parking lot.
- They didn’t warn customers the parking lot remained icy.
- They didn’t inspect the parking lot to make sure it was safe for customers.
On to the next challenge—proving what injuries got caused to Sharon’s knee, which had longstanding pre-existing injuries.
Medical Challenges Overcome
Sharon’s knee had severe prior problems—three operations in the nine years before her fall. Knowing the insurance company would fight like dogs over this, I handled it by meeting with the orthopedic surgeon whose office handled her previous operations. Those meetings yielded clear, powerful evidence of exactly what this fall caused.
The surgeon filled out a simple questionnaire from me, where he concluded the fall caused a right knee lateral meniscus tear and worsened her arthritis of the lateral compartment and patellofemoral joint. Those injuries required an operation: a partial lateral meniscectomy with lateral compartment and patellofemoral chondroplasty shaving. As a result, Sharon suffered permanent physical limitations and permanent pain for life. In the future, she will require medications, physical therapy, knee shots, and may need a knee replacement sooner.
Tough Case Ends With Solid Outcome
Once the insurance company received our evidence, we reached a settlement leaving both Sharon and her referring attorney happy she came to us. While it was a challenging case many attorneys might not have pursued, I’m thankful we took it on for Sharon and proved to that business that yes, there was something they could have done about it.