Victim Wins $6M After Elevator Ceiling Collapse
A plaintiff won $6 million after the panel on an elevator ceiling collapsed, striking a Florida man. The Florida man sustained a traumatic brain injury. Jurors found that the mall’s owner was largely negligent for the incident and awarded the plaintiff $6 million in damages.
Jurors assigned 70% of the blame to the defendant and 30% of the blame to the elevator company. However, under Florida’s laws, the mall owner will be required to pay the entire $6 million judgment because they had a non-delegable duty of care to ensure that the elevator company was alerted to the problem or that the elevator was placed out of commission while it presented a danger. Neither happened. The price for the defendant is $6 million. The plaintiff has to live with a recurring seizure disorder that could prevent him from driving or sustaining certain types of employment.
Generally, blaming someone else is your best approach to civil allegations. In this case, the plaintiffs only named the mall owner because they had a non-delegable duty of care. The mall owner attempted to lay the blame on the elevator maintenance company while the elevator maintenance company blamed the mall owner. Ultimately, the plaintiffs were looking for $26 million in damages. It remains unclear if there was a settlement offer on the table.
The best strategy for a civil defense attorney is to blame the plaintiff. However, if you’re standing in an elevator and a hatch falls on your head, it’s hard to blame you for the injury. In fact, neither defendant had much of a defense to these allegations and hence, their best strategy was to blame each other.
Issues related to premises liability
Premises liability lawsuits are filed on a theory of foreknowledge. However, this applies to cases of slip-and-fall. It’s much easier to prove negligence in the case of a mechanical failure because the material conditions that led to the failure had been building up over time. Ultimately, the property owner exposed a customer to a dangerous condition. The customer was severely injured and now has a permanent injury that will impact the rest of his life. He deserves to be compensated for the reduction in the quality of his life and for any economic damages he sustains as a result of no longer being able to work.
When juries assign damages, a determination is made as to what sort of out-of-pocket expenses they would pay for medical expenses. If they can no longer work because of their injury, they need to be compensated for lost wages as well. Finally, the jury must determine what fair compensation would look like for any reductions to their quality of life. In this case, that figure was $6 million.
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