Woman Receives Nearly Half a Million Dollar Award After Slipping and Falling
It is not uncommon for certain companies to ask patrons to sign a waiver of liability to use their facilities. This is common in buildings like gyms. Said waivers may absolve a company if a person is injured on their property, they are not absolute. In some cases, a jury may find that the business acted negligently or grossly negligent in such a way that they responsible despite the waiver.
One such case was recently decided for a plaintiff who was awarded nearly $500,000. Read on to find out more about this particular case. If you believe you have a case for a premises liability accident in which you were injured due to the negligence of a company, then contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.
The facts of the case
This lawsuit involved a 71-year-old woman by the name of Patricia Ziegler. She was visiting a gym in El Segundo in January of 2016 when she fell. The fall resulted in the fracture and dislocation of her elbow. She sued the gym for gross negligence, though the gym noted that she signed a waiver of liability when she joined the gym.
The accident happened when she was trying to take a shortcut between a pair of treadmills, which was a common occurrence for people in the gym. Between these particular two treadmills, there was a metal wireway on the floor that was 6” by 6”, and that did not have a secured lid. Ziegler caught her foot under the lid and fell.
The plaintiff’s side of the story
Ziegler’s attorney claimed that she did not sign any waiver and that even if she had, it was void because the gym violated a building code that prohibited electrical wireways across aisles in excess of 30” wide. In fact, her husband had signed the waiver but Ziegler herself had not. There was an amendment to their contract that was allegedly signed by her, but her lawyer showed that this signature was an electronic one and that defendant had not followed laws for electronic signature authentication.
The defendant’s side of the story
The defendant claimed that the waiver of liability was properly signed, covered Zeigler, and covered the accident. They also argued that the plaintiff was walking through a space that was not intended to be an aisle. They further showed that she had to walk sideways to get through the space.
Settlement offers and jury results
The plaintiff demanded $200,000 initially and then increased the ask to $495,000. The defendant offered $35,000 and the case went on to trial. The case went on for seven days and the jury deliberated for three days. The result was an award for $636,098 for the plaintiff, but the jury found her 25% at fault, which reduced her award to a net $477,073.64.