A Strasburg, Virginia (VA) resident, Ellen E. Sager, initiated a 3 million dollar lawsuit against a Food Lion store. Ms. Sager stated that she seriously injured her knee from a fall in the store caused by stepping in water that leaked from a refrigeration unit, according to nvdaily.com. When Ms. Sager reported the accident to a store cashier, the “employee told her she'd directed a colleague to clean up the water.” The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount of money and the case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge, Michael F. Urbanski, after the parties “compromised and settled” all matters between them.
The Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers' Perspective
All personal injury cases involve laws regarding negligence. In general, most (but not all) personal injury lawsuits usually go the route of settlement rather than trial. Why? In Virginia, there are two top reasons. First, if a personal Injury case is not settled and goes to a jury trial, Virginia law dictates that the seven members of the jury must reach a unanimous decision in favor of the plaintiff for the plaintiff to win his or her case. This scenario can be a risky proposition. Second, Virginia is among only a few states that follow contributory negligence law rather than comparative negligence law. Were the accident to occur in a comparative negligence state and the jury found both parties were negligent to some degree, Ms. Sager could be awarded compensation discounted by the extent of her negligence. However, under Virginia’s contributory negligence standard, if the jury had found Ms. Sager to be to have contributory fault in any material respect, she would not be awarded any compensation.
The admission by the Food Lion cashier might have been enough to convince a jury that the slippery condition was known but not acted upon by store employees prior to the accident, thus making the store fully liable for negligence. On the other hand, an admission like this can be used by the victim’s personal injury attorney to negotiate a settlement and avoid the risks of a jury trial.
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