Recent High Profile Slip and Fall Lawsuits-Fair or Not?
According to online news outlets, Paula Abdul was ordered to pay $900,000 earlier this week for settlement of a slip and fall case filed against her and a production company. According to TMZ, Paula and the production company were sued by a woman who fell at Paula's driveway during filming of a reality show.
Also this week, a N.H. court ruled in favor of a volunteer firefighter who was permitted to sue a homeowner after the firefighter slipped and fell on an icy driveway when responding a home fire.
Without knowing any of the facts of these two cases, I can't say for certain whether the cases themselves were fair or not. But it's certainly not a stretch to say that they are fair within the laws of their respective states because otherwise, their outcomes would probably be entirely different.
Of course there are those who believe that personal injury lawsuits aren't fair and that money grubbing plaintiffs are just trying to ride off into the sunset with a trunk full of some poor corporation's money. However, the law is designed to protect against meritless cases and these types of cases do get thrown out and dismissed. Yet, time and time again, the media portrays these injury cases with an air of disdain and many reports fail to reveal all of the important, necessary facts.
Remember the McDonald's case? Years ago, a woman sued McDonald's because she was burned when she spilled a cup of their coffee in her lap. The case garnered significant media attention because of the multi-million dollar jury award.
This woman suffered 3rd degree burns to her pelvic region. Now, pelvic region to me, means that it includes some especially private areas, considering that she was sitting in her car when she spilled the coffee. Third degree burns aren't minor burns you can treat with a little aloe. They aren't the ones that leave a little red mark. To the contrary, these types of burns are significant and burn all layers of the skin. People can die from 3rd degree burns. That's how serious these burns are.
Here's another important detail most media outlets failed to reveal: in the 10 years prior to the incident, McDonald's had received 700 complaints of people suffering various degrees of burns from their coffee, which was served at temperatures between 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of boiling water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So, the coffee at issue was close to boiling. Anyone want to pour a cup of near boiling water on themselves? Anyone want to pour a cup of near boiling water near their private areas?
We live in an era where we expect personal responsibility from each other, and rightfully so. However, I think people forget that businesses, corporations, homeowners and the like also have to accept personal responsibility. If something we do as individuals, homeowners or businesses causes injury to someone else, well then we have to be personally responsible for it.
We can't reasonably expect that when our negligence causes injury to someone lawfully on our property, we get to avoid liability. Same goes for the injured person, if their own actions contributed to the accident, then they also have to accept personal responsibility. Pennsylvania and New Jersey recognize these principles and both states have adopted comparative negligence-which basically means that when examining causality, the plaintiff may be assigned some percentage of fault. Personal responsibility applies to everyone. Now, that's fair.
Click here to access my most recent article about slip and falls due to water/spills in Pennsylvania
. If you or a loved one was seriously hurt in a slip and fall accident in the Pennsylvania or New Jersey areas, call our injury lawyers for a free consultation. 877.944.8396
Category: Premises Liability
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