The plaintiff was descending the ramp constructed outside the front door of a residence located on South LaSalle Street. As a result of the improper design, construction and maintenance of the ramp, as she was walking down it one of the boards gave way or bent underfoot causing her 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, injuring herself.
Shortly after the occurrence the ramp was inspected by an architect retained by our law firm. She found the ramp and handrail to be in violation of the Chicago Building Code due to the following:
1. The span between the stringers was too large causing the decking to buckle creating a tripping hazard. A third stringer should have been added in the center to properly support the decking.
2. The ramp itself was uneven and far too steep. The Chicago Building Code requires ramps to have a grade of not more than 1 to 8; however the ramp in question had a grade at the north side of 1 to 4.5 and on the south side of 1 to 6. This means the ramp was both uneven and far too steep on both sides.
3. The Chicago Building Code requires ramps having a grade more than 1 to 12 to have a nonslip surface. This could have been accomplished through either a granulated coating or applying nonskid adhesive strips. No such efforts were made.
4. The ramp’s railings were similarly insufficient. The Chicago Building Code requires ramps with a grade of more than 1 to 10 to have handrails and the handrails are required to be between two feet ten inches and three feet two inches above the walking surface. The north and south handrails have heights of three feet three quarter inch and two feet ten and a half inches respectively at the top of their run and terminate into the ground making the heights of each handrail below the minimum requirement for the vast majority of their runs. This makes it impossible for a person who is falling to grab onto the handrail for support.
We argued to the property owner’s insurance carrier that these violations created an extremely hazardous and unsafe environment for users of the ramp. Based upon the facts and circumstances surrounding the occurrence, it was clear that the vast majority of fault lied with the defendant property owners.
After the incident our client had an immediate onset of severe right arm pain. She was transported from the scene to the Saint Anthony Hospital Emergency Room.
Upon arrival at the Emergency Department a history was taken, she was examined and diagnostic tests were performed. The claimant complained of severe right arm and wrist pain and pain in her fingers. She was administered morphine due to her extreme pain. Upon examination there was an obvious deformity to her right arm. X-rays revealed a comminuted fracture of the distal radius with displacement. The fracture involved the radio carpal joint.
It was determined that our client needed to be seen by an orthopedic surgeon. She was placed in a splint, given a prescription for pain medication and instructed to seek follow up care with a medical doctor on May 29th.
The physician saw her at his office and noted that she was right hand dominant and suffered a comminuted intra-articular fracture of the distal right radius. He noted that surgery was necessary and referred her out for it.
The plaintiff was seen at the UIC Medical Center Orthopaedic Clinic. An open reduction internal fixation of the right distal radius was recommended. Surgery was scheduled for the next day.
The client underwent an open reduction, internal fixation of the distal radial fracture in her right arm/wrist. The surgery required the implantation of surgical metal including a 7-hole plate and numerous screws. Following the surgery she was placed in a cast and sling.
A week later she was seen for follow up at which time half of her sutures were removed and she was placed in a short-arm cast. Two weeks later her remaining sutures were removed and her cast was removed. She had significant stiffness in her wrist. She was placed in a volar wrist splint and prescribed occupational therapy.
The plaintiff underwent a lengthy course of therapy through UIC Occupational Therapy. In therapy she worked on improving her range of motion and increasing her strength. After she completed her official therapy, she continued with the home exercise program on a regular basis.
Over the next several months the client continued to follow up with a physician. Despite her treatment, she continued to experience pain and discomfort in her right wrist. This was especially prevalent when there are changes in the weather or when pressure or weight is applied to the wrist such as when she lifts objects. Additionally, due to the severity and location of the fractures, she has an increased risk of developing traumatic arthritis in her wrist.
After a period of time, the claimant’s pain significantly decreased. Her fracture is now well healed with no significant issues.
The premises case settled for $70,000 without having to filing a lawsuit.
If you have been injured in a trip and fall accident, contact Abels & Annes for a free appointment on the phone or in person. Call 966-99-ABELS to speak to an attorney today.
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