$800,000 Settlement in Slip and Fall Case Requiring Hip Surgery and Subsequent Hip Replacement Infection


  • Emily Mapp Brannon, Attorney
  • Richard N. Shapiro, Attorney
  • P. McConnell, Legal Assistant
About the Case
Our client and his family rented a vacation home in scenic Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia (VA).  They were planning to staying in the rental home for two weeks.  The home is on a higher part of land than the lake.  To access the lake and boat dock from the home, the vacationers must utilize a stone paver staircase.  The staircase is steep and instead of wood or concrete steps, there are ornamental stone pavers which make it more likely for someone to slip or trip.
On the second day of vacation, our client was walking up to the rental home from a trip on the lake.  On the fourth or fifth step, a stone paver gave way, and our client slipped and fell hard on the stone stairs. His head was cut from where it hit a stone and he was experiencing excruciating pain in his hip.  Come to find out, the owner attempted to repair several loose paver stones on his own, without the assistance of a licensed contractor.  The owner used a type of epoxy to affix the stone pavers to the construction but the epoxy was not the proper type and the stones did not adhere. These statements were made by the defendant owner to our client's family.
An ambulance was called and he was transported to a local hospital where it was determined he had suffered a complex left both column acetabular fracture with medial wall impaction.  This complex hip injury required immediate surgery.  Bear in mind that our client was on vacation from Florida.  Our client underwent an open reduction and internal fixation of complex left both column acetabular fracture and several pieces of hardware were implanted into his pelvis.  After the initial surgery, our client was informed that he would likely require a total hip replacement in the future, at least a year after the initial surgery so that the hip had time to heal on its own.    During the time he was in the hospital and rehab in Virginia, our client's wife was forced to stay in a hotel.  She had only packed clothing for their vacation.  She had to eat out for every meal for nearly a month. Our client was inpatient in Virginia for 27 days, all stemming from a serious slip/trip injury while on vacation.
When our client was finally released from the hospital he was transferred to a rehab facility three hours away in Durham, North Carolina (NC).  He was forced to re-learn how to walk with assistive devices but could not walk without a rolling walker.  During this time, his wife bathed him, nearly every day.  He had to be moved from bed to chair, bed to walker, walker to chair etc.  

Unfortunately, an iinfection developed following the hip replacement at Duke Medical Center and required further surgical procedures, antibiotics, and other medical intervention. 

Our client spent practically his entire summer after the slip/trip at the rental home in the hospital or at a doctor’s office.  As a result of the injuries suffered, he will have an abnormal gait for the rest of his life.  

Case Strategy
We knew that liability was as strong as could be but that in any premises case, there is the argument of contributory negligence. Our client suffered from Parkinson’s and the likelihood of the defense raising that issue was high, if not a certainty.  An architectural expert was hired to review the photographs of the area in question.  He opined that the stairs were not in compliance with Virginia Building Code.  Furthermore, the stone pavers, which gave way, were not adhered with a proper epoxy or adhering agent.  We shared this report with the insurance adjuster. Jury instructions were included which clearly highlighted the duty of care of a landowner to the non-lawyer adjuster.  Also included in the demand was a booklet of exhibits, mainly photographs, which outlined the area where the plaintiff fell and the effect the injury took on our client.

Here are the Virginia Model Instructions about a Landlord's duty about dangerous conditions on their property;



Richard N. Shapiro
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia