Tragedy usually comes when you least expect it, like in a sudden slip and fall in the subway. That was true for a 74-year-old man who slipped and fell as he was going down the stairs to the subway. He attempted to board the train at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, New York. As he attempted to walk down the stairs he almost instantly lost his footing. A faulty tread caused the accident. The tread angled downward and was loose to the touch. Upon engaging this tread, the man was unable to keep his balance and fell down the entire stairway.
As a result of the slip and fall in the subway, the man suffered life-changing injuries to his neck. An ambulance took him to a local emergency room where he explained to the doctors and staff that he had significant pain in his cervical spine. Examination and testing, showed that the man had dislocated a bone in his spine. A specialist diagnosed the injured man with a fractured lamina in his cervical spine. This means a portion of spinal vertebrae in his neck was broken. He also sustained a herniated disc in the same area. With injuries this severe, his only option was surgery.
The man underwent fusion surgery to his neck which included inserting metal plates and multiple screws. Following more than a week of inpatient care, the plaintiff underwent physical therapy for a number of years. Despite his efforts to improve, the plaintiff still complained of stabbing pain in his neck. The pain affected him at home significantly. Before the accident, the man served as a caregiver for his wife. The injury has prevented him from doing so going forward. His injuries also forced him to quit his job as a janitor.
The injured man (the plaintiff) sued the Transit Authority (the defendant) for the subway slip and fall accident. The plaintiff’s 16-year-old grandson testified. The plaintiff’s grandson conveyed to the jury just how difficult the plaintiff’s life was after the accident. The defendant did not call any medical witnesses to dispute the medical diagnosis or treatment. Because the defendant had plaintiff examined by doctors, but did not call them to testify, the judge gave the jury a missing witness charge. This charge undoubtably helped them in their decision. A missing witness charge basically allows jurors to draw a negative conclusion from the fact that a party to a lawsuit decided not to produce one of their witnesses. A jury almost always draws a negative inference from the missing witness charge.
This is another reason why trial may be the best option for a case, as it is important to make the defendant come through on their previous disclosures. If they do not, it can positively affect the outcome of the trial for the plaintiff.
The jury found that the defendant was 86% at fault and the plaintiff was 14% at fault for this subway slip and fall accident. This apportionment meant that the money damages award would be 86% of the value placed on the injuries by the jury. Upon considering the injuries, the jury awarded $1,200,000 in past pain and suffering and $1,000,000 in future pain and suffering for a total of $2,200,000. The jury also heard evidence that the plaintiff, who was 74 at the time of the accident, intended to work until he was 79. They awarded him $240,000 in past pain and suffering and $250,000 in future lost wages for a total of $490,000.
The jury also addressed the issue of medical expenses. They found that he had incurred $350,000 in past medical expenses and $255,582 in future medical expenses for a total of $605,582. The future medical expenses included x-rays, EMG studies, MRIs, physical therapy and additional injections to his neck.
Following the verdict, the defendant appealed. The defendant appealed all aspects of the verdict. The appellate court reduced the pain and suffering award to $1,675,000. The appellate court affirmed the other portions of the verdict.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact The Platta Law Firm for a free legal consultation. We know that sudden, unanticipated accidents can turn your life upside-down. If you are involved in a slip and fall in the subway, or any other unexpected accident, our expert lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve.