In May 2012, while visiting her mother's hospital bedside at Palms West Hospital, a woman slipped and fell on the floor, striking an object as she landed. There was a pool of water extending from the window area of the wall, which caused her slip-and-fall injury. She sustained serious cervical and lumbar spine injuries that required multiple surgeries. Her medical bills quickly rose above $500,000, with estimated future medical needs significantly above that figure.
A premises liability action against Palms West Hospital was only the beginning of the case. Palms West proceeded to file third-party complaints against multiple roofing and construction companies that had been involved in the construction of the room, which also proceeded to file complaints and cross-claims against each other alleging breach of contract and contractual and common law indemnity. While none of the defendants argued that the victim was at fault for her injuries, the case dragged on with 12 defense lawyers representing the various companies involved, all arguing contractual liabilities amongst themselves.
Our firm was brought on board as co-counsel to help navigate this difficult severe injury case. Our position was simple: that as the property owner, Palms West had the ultimate responsibility to provide a safe environment for visitors such as our client, and that duty of care could not be delegated or transferred. We assisted with extensive discovery and learned that the hospital knew that a hazard was present because there had been previous water intrusions in the rooms adjacent to and above the room where our client was injured. Moreover, their contractual documents with the contractor gave notice of the potential risk.
In November 2016, this case resolved with a settlement in the amount of $1.6 million, with each of the defendants contributing. This recovery will help her to pay for the significant ongoing cost of her injury and send a strong message to Florida hospitals that they need to provide a safe environment for patients and visitors alike.