Articles Posted in Slip & Fall

A plaintiff sued Wal-Mart for injuries she sustained at one of Wal-Mart’s stores while acting within the course and scope of her employment with Acosta, Inc. The trial court found Wal-Mart liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Under California Labor Code sections 3852 and 3856, appellant Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company (Hartford) applied for a lien on the plaintiff’s judgment to obtain reimbursement for the California workers’ compensation benefits it paid her. Although the judgment included compensation for her medical expenses, it did not include compensation for her lost wages. The court granted Hartford a lien on the judgment but reduced the lien amount.In August 2012, the plaintiff was working for Acosta when she fell and injured herself on Wal-Mart’s premises. Hartford was Acosta’s workers’ compensation insurer and paid the victim more than $152,000 in benefits, including more than $115,000 in medical expenses and roughly $37,000 in temporary disability indemnity for her lost wages.

In July 2014, following a three-day bench trial, the court found Wal-Mart 100 percent at fault and entered judgment against Wal-Mart for $355,000, including $178,000 in past medical expenses, $102,000 in future medical expenses, and $75,000 in past and future pain and suffering. Although the complaint sought lost wages and earning capacity, the court did not award her damages for these items because she did not ask for them at trial.

Hartford filed a notice and application for a lien on the judgment, based on the workers’ compensation benefits it paid to the victim. The trial court issued an order to show cause why it should not grant the requested lien. The plaintiff filed an opposition, arguing the court should reduce the lien amount by the nearly $37,000 Hartford sought for the temporary disability benefits it paid because she did not present evidence regarding those payments at trial, and therefore the court did not award her that amount as damages.

A plaintiff brought a lawsuit against Valencia-Penales Care Services, Inc. and two individuals in connection with injuries she incurred from a fall. The matter proceeded to a jury trial. The plaintiff appealed from a judgment and order denying her motion for a new trial, contending that the non-economic damages she was awarded by the jury were inadequate. The California Court of Appeal for the First District disagreed and affirmed the judgment.In January 2015, the plaintiff was living alone in an apartment at Redwood Retirement, an adult living facility. She was 91 years old, suffered from macular degeneration, and at times used a cane or walker. She fell while getting back into her car after visiting the store with her caretaker. One of the issues at trial was her mental and physical condition before and after her fall.

The jury found no negligence on the part of the individual defendants, but it rendered a verdict for the plaintiff on her negligence claim against Valencia-Penales. The jury apportioned 45% of the responsibility for her harm to Valencia-Penales. It awarded the plaintiff her requested past economic damages totaling $44,506.65, future economic damages in the amount of $126,000 for caregiving services, and $5,000 for non-economic damages.

On appeal, she maintained that the jury’s award of $5,000 for non-economic damages was inadequate because (1) she suffered significant injuries when she fell, and (2) she lost her independence and quality of life.

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