$400,000 Settlement to Woman Injured by Falling Hotel Window Treatment
RESULTS OF A GIVEN CASE ARE BASED ON A VARIETY OF ISSUES UNIQUE TO THAT PERSONAL INJURY MATTER AND YOURS MAY NOT END UP IN A WAY CONSISTENT WITH THE FOLLOWING ONE
John Cooper and Bill O’Mara
A 55-year-old flight attendant was a guest at a hotel in Virginia Beach when a heavy wooden valance above the window fell onto her head, causing her a number of injuries including concussion. When we stay in a hotel or motel room, we do not expect that it will be falling apart.
As well as the closed head injury, the woman suffered injuries to her neck, knee and shoulder. She was from Raleigh in North Carolina and was put in the hotel by her employer, a national airline company. Our client required surgery to repair an injury to her anterior cruciate ligament and a partial tear of the lateral meniscus. She also required surgery for a partial tear of her right rotator cuff, and also to treat the neck injury. The flight attendant’s doctors treated the injuries as accident-related under workers’ compensation. Although some of the bills were paid by the workers’ compensation insurer, they had to be paid back from the settlement with the hotel’s insurer.
The woman believed the hotel was liable for her serious injuries. She alleged that the heavy box holding the drapes was not fitted securely into the drywall and the hotel owners had failed to use anchors or fastening devices to secure it to the wall. She contacted Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers and we filed a premises liability lawsuit in Virginia Beach Circuit Court against the hotel owners.
To prove that the hotel had done something wrong, we hired liability experts including a hotel management expert and an engineering consultant to give their opinions related to the liability of the hotel. The hotel management expert said the improperly installed valance should have been found in a routine inspection required of innkeepers every six months.
The hotel’s attorneys hotly disputed liability, saying the hotel staff was unaware of the improperly installed valance because it had been installed by a contractor as opposed to hotel staff. We found the installer and proved that the maintenance team at the hotel likely changed the fixture and made it less safe. The hotel ownership group was defunct by the time the suit was filed, so getting information about the construction and maintenance was hard.
The defense attorneys also disputed the injuries claimed by the flight attendant, questioning whether the injuries were linked to the accident involving the valance. There were references in our client’s medical records to pre-existing conditions and prior injuries. We collected all of her medical records from before and after the accident at the business. Then we talked to our client’s doctors to confirm what they were prepared to testify. We had to be sure that the surgeons would connect their procedures to the event at the hotel.
The case was settled at a mediation before trial for $400,000. The case was complicated by a substantial Norfolk Carolina workers’ compensation lien. John Cooper and Bill O’Mara were successful in negotiating a substantial reduction in the lien, a benefit which was passed on to our client. Our client was able to cover her medical expenses, as well as lost wages for her job in the airline industry, and get her life back on track.