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Awarded: $120,000

Plaintiff was walking on a sidewalk when she slipped and fell on a patch of ice that had accumulated in front of the apartment complex in which she lived. The ice was covered by a light dusting of snow on top of the ice.

The fall resulted in a three-part fracture her right ankle which required immediate open reduction and internal fixation surgery. The surgery resulted in the placement of five permanent screws and a number of plates in the ankle. Plaintiff was completely non-weightbearing for one week and had severely reduced mobility for three more weeks before returning to work in a limited fashion. She continued physical therapy until four months after the injury.

Prior to the incident, plaintiff was an athletic 25-year old woman who played soccer. Her injury has made it difficult, if not impossible, to return to full activity. Two years after the injury she was rated with a 14% impairment to her right lower extremity due to loss of ankle motion and atrophy.

The defendants initially disclaimed liability, the apartment owner and its snow removal contractor each charging that the other party was responsible for treating the icy conditions on the sidewalk in front of the apartment. Weather reports from the area showed three inches of snow falling the day prior to the injury, and temperatures below freezing on the day of the injury.

Plaintiff’s forensic architect expert reported that on the day of the injury, snow had melted from the apartment’s roof into a drainpipe, and had refrozen below, at the spot where the plaintiff was injured. The expert reported that defects in the sidewalk and poor drainpipe placement caused roof runoff to collect at the point where the injury occurred. Tenants had complained of icy sidewalks prior to the fall.

Type of action: Negligence, premises liability
Injuries alleged: Fracture and dislocation of the right ankle
Special damages: $26,571.59 in medical bills
Verdict/settlement: Settlement
Amount: $120,000 total settlement; $115,000 from defendant apartment complex and $5,000 from defendant snow removal contractor
Plaintiff’s expert: Lawrence Dinoff, forensic architect; Dr. John Bruno, orthopedist
Venue: Fairfax County Circuit Court

Awarded: $120,000

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