Amputee suffers damaging fall on NYC holiday- secures six figure settlement
Our client, a 58-year-old company director, who had been an above the knee amputee (right leg) since the age of 28, was on holiday with her husband in New York City when she suffered a nasty accident.
During the night, she went to the bathroom of their hotel room. As she was used to doing, she made her way towards the bathroom on one leg (as putting on a prosthetic limb takes around 10-15 minutes, and so amputees learn to navigate short distances on one leg). As she made her way to the bathroom, she felt her toe get caught beneath a raised plastic threshold (rod) that separated the carpet from the tiled area in the hallway.
This caused her to fall and she twisted and landed on the stump of her amputated leg. She was taken to hospital by ambulance, where it was established that she had suffered an intertrochanteric fracture of her right femur.
Our client was in hospital in the US for 8 days, before being transferred back to the UK.
Following the accident, our client lost a lot of her independence due to being off her limb, which she couldn’t wear because of her fracture. She was forced to use a wheelchair and to mobilise on crutches.
Our client was a very active lady, a very involved grandmother and successful entrepreneur, having set up her own business with her husband. She was used to being on the go and her lack of mobility, and the pain and discomfort associated with the injury, caused her a great deal of distress.
Our client required extensive physiotherapy and required a new fitting for her limb because of the change in size and shape of her stump caused by the fracture.
Because she had been on an all-inclusive ‘package’ holiday, the Claimant could have sued the English tour operator in the English Courts. However, this would have meant that English law would have applied and English law is not as generous, when it comes to damages awards, as USA law.
As the accident happened in the USA, and the Defendant company was based in the USA, our client also had the option to pursue her claim in the USA, specifically in the Southern District of New York. This also meant that USA law would apply.
We explained the options to the Claimant and she decided to pursue her claim in the US, directly against the hotel chain, so that if she was successful she would be entitled to a higher level of damages.
In order to do this Fletchers Group worked in co-operation with a firm of US Attorneys, Williams Ceder, who specialised in personal injury work.
As it was, the Defendant hotel chain denied liability for the accident, and alleged that the strip was not sufficient raised so as to cause an accident, they suggested our client must have just lost her balance and fell.
Via the US attorneys, our client filed a suit for damages in New York against the hotel company and she then had to be cross examined by an attorney for the Defendant, in what is known as a ‘deposition.’
Our client gave a very good account of herself, explaining that the raised threshold is what caused her to trip, and explaining to the Defendant’s attorney that, after 30 years as an amputee she was actually very proficient navigating short distances on one leg, making it seem unlikely that she would have just lost her balance.
To support the claim we also obtained medical evidence, including from an expert in prosthetic limbs.
The Case Outcome
In an effort to settle the case, without the need for a trial, our client agreed to attend a mediation, along with her legal team. Also present at the mediation were attorneys for the hotel and an independent mediator, appointed by the parties, whose role to was to try and get the parties to reach a settlement they were both happy with.
The mediation was successful and, after several hours of negotiation, we secured a $295,000 settlement for our client.