Premises Liability: Fall




On his first night in a rural Virginia apartment complex that he’d just moved into, the plaintiff exited his front door and began walking along the lone sidewalk that led from his unit to the parking & mail area. None of the streetlights in this area of the complex were operable, which left the sidewalk almost completely unlit – a situation about which other tenants had recently complained.

As the plaintiff proceeded along, he tripped over a 6″ unpainted asphalt curb that had been installed across the sidewalk, which he could neither see nor avoid.

The plaintiff’s ribcage came crashing down atop the curb. His resulting injuries included the fracturing of most of the ribs on his left side, and various sprains and bruises. Over the next five months, the plaintiff began developing chronic pains in the muscle tissue throughout his body, particularly his upper torso, and most acutely in his hands, forearms and shoulders.  According to several physicians who later examined him, the damage to the nerves that run under each of his rib was so severe, and complications with the healing process produced fibromyalgia, a debilitating nervous system disorder that causes chronic pain and fatigue. The plaintiff was left with the ability to work only an intermittent, part-time basis.


My work on this project

I worked with the plaintiff’s attorney to:

  • Survey and photograph the apartment complex during daytime and nighttime conditions
  • Construct graphic overlays which – when superimposed over these photographs – depict the location of lights, and their and status of illumination at the time of his accident
  • Develop graphics that depict the general physical characteristics of the complex, and the accident scene
  • Create a graphical timeline containing all key medical diagnoses, treatments, and other factors in the plaintiff’s prolonged recovery – with special focus on the fact that as rib fractures are notoriously difficult to accurately diagnose, the true extent of his injuries was not known at the time of his initial emergency treatment (below)



With the aid of the presentation that I developed (below), the attorney was able to obtain a pre-trial settlement from the property owner’s insurance company.

Trip Fall Presentation by jonsutz


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