Chicago premises liability lawyer moving ahead with injury case

An Illinois trip and fall attorney at Abels & Annes are currently working on a claim for a woman who was injured from an incident that occurred on August 18, 2010. The plaintiff was a resident at a mobile home park in the northern suburbs of Cook County. At that time the park was managed by a woman who ran an office out of one of the trailers at the property.

On the date of the occurrence our client had gone to the manager’s office to inquire about a trailer issue. She ascended the steps up to the small deck outside the front door to the office and knocked on the door. When there was no response she began to descend the steps to leave.

Chicago injury lawyers at our office are alleging that as a result of the improper design, construction and maintenance of the steps, as the plaintiff began to walk down the steps she lost her footing on the uneven steps and began to stumble. As she began to stumble she attempted to grab for a handrail to steady herself. Again, due to the improper design, construction and maintenance of the handrail, it was not located where it should have been and she was unable to grab it. As a result she fell, severely injuring herself.

Shortly after the occurrence the steps were inspected by an architect. She found the steps and handrail to be in violation of several sections of the Village Building Code and the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC), which the Village follows.

1. The stair risers were not uniform. Section R311.5.3 of the IRC provides that the maximum riser height shall be 7¾ inches and that the greatest riser height within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than ⅜ inch. The four risers from the bottom to top are measured at 4½”, 7″, 6½” and 3″. The greatest riser height exceeds the smallest by 4″. This is far greater than the allowable maximum of ⅜”, creating a hazard to users.

2. The handrail on the outer side of the steps was far too steep for its intended purpose. Section R311.5.6.1 of the IRC provides that handrail height measured vertically from the sloped plane adjoining the tread nosing shall not be less than 34″ nor more than 38″. The handrail at issue from the bottom tread to the top landing measured at 16½”, 23″, 30″ and 39″. No portion of the rail measures within the 34″-38″ requirement, making it impossible to grasp the handrail for guidance or support.

3. The side of the stair adjacent to the trailer was completely open to the ground. Upon inspection it appeared as though a handrail had originally been built but had fallen off at some point in time and never replaced. The size of the opening is 7″, which is wide enough for a person’s foot to fall through. Section R311.5.6.2 provides that handrails for stairways must be continuous for the full length of the flight of stairs. An appropriate handrail should have been installed or reinstalled to allow a person to grasp it for support. Additionally, the existing handrail on the outside stops 4¼” short of the bottom tread’s nosing, leaving the end of the stair unprotected. This leaves a user descending the steps without support near the bottom in the event of a fall.

These violations created an extremely hazardous and unsafe environment for users of the steps.

Our client had an immediate onset of severe right leg and ankle pain. There was an obvious deformity in the area of her right ankle. She was transported by ambulance from the scene to Glenbrook Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Upon arrival at the Emergency Department a history was taken, she was examined and diagnostic tests were performed. She complained of severe right leg and ankle pain. Upon visualization there was an obvious deformity to the ankle area. She was administered morphine due to her extreme pain. X-rays revealed fractures of the right medial malleolus and of the right distal fibula, possible fracture of the posterior malleolus and the ankle mortise appeared to be disrupted.

Due to the severity of her ankle fracture it was determined that an open reduction internal fixation surgery needed to be performed immediately. The plaintiff was admitted as an inpatient to the hospital.

Surgery was performed that first day. Our client was diagnosed with a Grade 1 bimalleolar ankle fracture with laceration over the medial malleolus. Her surgeon performed an open reduction internal fixation of the right bimalleolar ankle fracture. The procedure required the implantation of surgical metal, including a plate and eleven (11) screws. A hard cast was applied from her foot to her knee.

Following the surgery she remained an inpatient through August 21st. During her time as an inpatient she continued to complain of severe pain and underwent her first few therapy sessions. At the time of discharge she continued to complain of severe ankle pain. She was instructed not to put any weight on her foot and to seek follow up treatment with the physician in two weeks.

She followed up with the surgeon on August 31, 2010 and continued to follow up with him regularly over the next year. Despite some improvement in her ankle over time, she continued to suffer constant pain and limitations.

Our client was prescribed a course of physical therapy which she underwent through Highland Park Hospital’s Rehab Services. In physical therapy she worked on ankle stabilization, flexibility exercises, strength exercises, range of motion, gait training and agility/balance training. Participating in the sessions was difficult and painful. Additionally, following each session she suffered an exacerbation of pain, swelling and discomfort in her ankle. At the time of her discharge from physical therapy she was given a home exercise regimen that she continues to practice through to the present and will likely need to continue for the rest of her life.

As of February, 2011 she continued to suffer pain and stiffness in her ankle and still required the assistance of a walker for walking. She was also experiencing pain and discomfort with some of the implanted screws.

On April 29, 2011 she continued to complain of pain around the implants. Her docotor informed her to contact his office to schedule removal of the implants if they continue to cause her pain in July, 2011.

On July 11, 2011 her surgeon performed the surgical removal of two (2) of the eleven (11) screws that had been implanted into her ankle. her last appointment with the doctor was July 26, 2011. Despite the removal of two of the screws, she continued to have some ankle pain and swelling. The stitches from the surgery to remove the screws were removed.

Due to the intra-articular nature of the fracture, the physician informed our client that she is at great risk of developing posttraumatic osteoarthritis and will likely have a permanent reduction in the range of motion of her ankle. She will likely require additional treatment in the future to address the posttraumatic arthritis such as therapy, medication and even possibly a future ankle fusion.

For months after the accident she could not do any activity that involved standing or walking. Even after her cast was removed and she was able to begin to put weight on her ankle and walk, she continued to experience pain with almost all activities of daily living. Simple activities such as standing to shower or cook, cleaning her home, grocery shopping, or doing her laundry were very difficult and painful for her. Additionally, due to her immobility she was essentially homebound for many months, not able to go out for any reason other than medical treatment. She was unable to drive for several months which further limited her ability to engage in normal life activities. Furthermore, her sleep has been regularly disturbed and interrupted due to her pain since the date of the occurrence.

Medical expenses incurred by the plaintiff for treatment of the injuries she suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant total over $50,000.

As a result of the injuries she suffered in the incident she now has two permanent surgical scars on her right ankle. One on the inside and one on the outside of her ankle. Each is a large discolored and raised/keloid scar. These scars are permanent. Scar revision surgery is not only painful and expensive but cannot completely remove the scars.

Call the slip & fall lawyers at Abels and Annes if you have been hurt in the Chicago area due to a negligent landowner. Contact our office online or call us 24/7 at 312-475-9596.

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