Settlement for North Carolina Woman Who Tripped and Fell in Virginia Restaurant | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

A woman who lived in North Carolina suffered orthopedic injuries when she tripped while visiting a Virginia restaurant. She later sought treatment in he home state and waited just more than two years to file slip and fall injury claims against the restaurant owner.

Being licensed in both Virginia and North Carolina enabled our personal injury attorney to help the woman secure a satisfactory settlement for her medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. Succeeding with the case required overcoming numerous challenges related to statutes of limitations, proving negligence on the part of the restaurant owner and untangling the corporate ownership and operations of the restaurant.

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Key Legal Strategy

Lawyers call these types of cases “premises liability” because business owners have responsibilities for protecting the lives, safety and health of customers. In Virginia, where the woman suffered her injuries while visiting a restaurant, the statute of limitations on premises liability claims is two years.

North Carolina, however, imposes a three-year statute of limitations on premises liability claims. A close reading of both states’ laws revealed that North Carolina allows residents who slip, fall and get injured while briefly patronizing a business in a neighboring state like Virginia to file premises liability claims in a North Carolina court as long as the business owns property or conducts significant operations in North Carolina.

The company that owned the Virginia restaurant where our slip and fall injury law firm client got hurt did also have restaurants in North Carolina. This cleared away the statute of limitations complication. Even though the clock for filing a claim in Virginia had run out by the time the injured woman hired our firm, she still had time to file in her home state.

The second problem our slip and fall injury attorney had to solve for his client concerned proving negligence on the part of the restaurant. This turned out to be simple because an inspection of the property and reports of the accident clearly showed that dangerous conditions existed. The restaurant owner’s negligence consisted of failing to remove or properly mitigate the tripping risk.

To describe our efforts in more legal terms, we revived the injured woman’s premises liability claim by borrowing a statute and changing jurisdiction. Then, because we could show that the restaurant owner failed to meet its legal duty to protect our client, we convinced the company to settle her claims.

Before going to trial in civil court, the restaurant owner agreed to pay our slip and fall injury client a confidential sum that she found acceptable.

Victims of negligence or recklessness have undeniable rights to seek compensation and monetary damages from the people or organizations that harmed them. Too many people who have valid personal injury and wrongful death claims, however, surrender their ability to hold bad actors accountable because they do not take legal action within the applicable statute of limitations. Contacting a plaintiff’s attorney quickly after a slip and fall, traffic accident or medical malpractice incident can be vital to receiving an insurance settlement or civil trial award.

Court and Dates: North Carolina, November 2009

Staff: Richard N. Shapiro, attorney