Woman Breaks Leg Tripping Over Broken Asphalt at Gas Station Wins $350,000
This case exemplifies the dangers of broken concrete often seen in the State of Indiana due to changing weather patterns and the inattention of a business landowner.
In Spring-2016, "Mary" had pulled her vehicle into a self-serve gas pump to replenish her tank. Her gas tank cap was on the opposite side of the vehicle. She got out of her car, walked behind her vehicle and began pumping the gasoline. On her way back to her driver's side seat, her toe caught a hole created by deteriorating and broken asphalt near the intact concrete pad. This caused her to trip and fall forward, breaking her femur in the process.
An ambulance was called and Mary spent the next few months in convalescent rehabilitation trying to get better. After many months, she was finally able to work up the strength to begin to walk again with the aid of a walker.
Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw visited the local gas station and was able to secure many photographs of the broken and deteriorating asphalt which created several holes near the concrete pad where cars would be parked while pumping gasoline. These holes were a dangerous condition that had been created over a long period of time. Upon a subsequent visit, Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw was able to secure more photos which showed a significant repair of the asphalt had been done by the station owner.
Mary and Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw brought a lawsuit against the station owner for failing to warn of the dangerous condition and/or fixing the asphalt before the injury.
The defense lawyer argued that Mary should be held responsible because: (1) she had already walked over the same spot on the way to pumping the gasoline and had fallen upon her return trip to the driver's seat; and (2) she was familiar with the gas station and its property because she had visited numerous times in prior to that particular trip.
Attorney Jeff "JJ" Shaw was able to persuade the insurance company adjuster for the station owner that Mary's familiarity with the property paled in comparison to that of the landowner. It was obvious the deterioration of the asphalt had occurred over a long period of time -- perhaps years -- and that Mary's trips to the station were less than 0.2% of the time the landowner had available to observe, recognize and fix the dangerous tripping hazards on his property.
After a significant settlement conference that last nearly one day in duration, the parties were able to reach a settlement on the case. Exhibits and evidence were exchanged during the settlement conference (called a "mediation" and required by the County Superior Court in this case) with each side maintaining their client's respective positions.
The settlement was finally reached with the help of the mediator. Mary was able to buy a new house that would help her cope with her injuries in a more efficient way rather than the non-handicapped accessible apartment she had been living.
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