$1M SETTLEMENT: In January 2020, our client, a Temple University employee, was making a work-related delivery in Center City, Philadelphia when he was caused to trip and fall to the ground due to a cracked and uneven cement sidewalk that had a dangerous number of loose stones scattered thereon. After briefly losing consciousness, he awoke in agonizing pain only to discover he was unable to move his legs.
Fortunately, a nearby witness called EMS who transported the client to the ICU at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Medical personnel quickly confirmed the worst—a life-altering spinal cord injury. He was immediately rushed into the operating room for emergency decompression and fusion surgeries, among other procedures. While recovering as an inpatient at Jefferson Hospital, he called Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Law and was greeted by attorney Dan Stampone.
That same day, Stampone traveled to Jefferson Hospital to photograph and document the extent of the slip and fall injuries. Armed with his client’s account, Dan then visited the scene of the accident for two reasons—to preserve evidence of the condition of the sidewalk and to establish who owned the incident property. Stampone explains, “Rule #1 in our office is to travel to the scene of the accident. Doing so always puts me in a better position to understand how and why an accident occurred. Far too many lawyers bypass this simple task to the detriment of their case and client.”
In this instance, traveling to the scene was essential as the fall occurred in front of multiple, unoccupied, residential row houses. “In cases like these, we try to immediately notify the property owner of our intention to litigate. The problem, here, was that the property was empty save for a posted ‘For Lease’ sign. Even calling the leasing agency led to a dead end as they refused to provide any information about the property owners.” That wasn’t going to stop Stampone, though. He adds, “These obstacles are just that—obstacles. They will never stop me from getting the information I need to represent my clients.”
True to his word, Stampone didn’t stop. He located and pulled the property deed to identify the owner, a foreign company, which presented another obstacle. “The foreign entity was unresponsive to our correspondence notifying them of the injury claim. This isn’t the first time that I’ve dealt with overseas property owners, and I was able to craft a final notice letter in a way that forced the defendant to respond or face more significant consequences. Shortly thereafter, we were contacted by their insurance carrier.”
In the meantime, the client was transferred to top-ranked Moss Rehabilitation, where he remained as an inpatient for approximately 40 days. During his extensive inpatient treatment and beyond, Stampone brought in experts in physical rehabilitation and neurology, including the Chief Medical Officer at Magee Rehabilitation, one of the top facilities in the country. These experts confirmed that despite the client’s unparalleled treatment, he could be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. “Once we obtained these opinions from our experts, my goal turned to obtaining the maximum recovery for our client,” Stampone says. But in a case of obstacles, a new one presented itself—the worker’s comp claim.
While Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Law always advises keeping both cases under their umbrella, in this instance, the client chose to utilize a different firm for their worker’s compensation claim. Stampone elaborates on the impact of this decision, “My slip and fall case doesn’t really affect the worker’s comp claim, but the worker’s comp claim can really impact my slip and fall case. A quick settlement was reached by this particular worker’s compensation law firm which restricted my client’s treatment options, prevented him from getting accommodations to his home, and prohibited me from being able to negotiate the worker’s compensation lien.” Stampone explains. “This was simply another hurdle for us to clear, and we did.”
The next step? Determining the monetary value of the injury claim. During this process, Stampone worked with a Certified Life Care Planner who, based on the report of our medical experts, opined on the projected cost of the client’s future medical treatment. Stampone explains, “There’s a lot that goes into this aspect of the claim. We have to consider what our experts are telling us, our client’s wage loss and loss of earning capacity, loss of household services, loss of benefits, lifestyle changes, and more. What made this assessment even harder, was that the Defendant was reluctant to share information regarding their insurance policy limits.” As such, Dan requested the policy limits and made clear he wasn’t going to settle for even a penny less; and he didn’t. After a multi-year litigation process slowed by the Covid-19 pandemic response, Stampone recovered the $1M policy limit from the Defendant.
“When representing our clients,” Stampone says, “We become part of their family, and they become part of ours. I saw our client’s kids carry their father down their front steps to get him to doctor’s appointments. I witnessed them share meals in the living room near his hospital bed. I was in regular contact with his wife who was working full-time to cover bills, on top of everything she did to care for her husband’s injuries. Every member of this family chipped in to help their father, and I was just happy to play my role and recover the maximum amount available for this very nice family.”
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall, or believe a negligent property owner is responsible for your injuries, contact us today.