Partner Allan M. Siegel Wins $539,462 Arbitration Award in Slip & Fall Case

by | Dec 15, 2023

This case involved a slip and fall on an icy stairwell. Our client rented a basement apartment in a residential house in Alexandria, Virginia. The stairwell did not have a handrail in violation of Virginia Code. On the morning in question, there was black ice on the stairwell. The landlord failed to take any reasonable action to remove the black ice or make the stairwell safe. As our client walked down the stairwell, he slipped on the ice. He tried to catch himself but was unable to do so because there was no handrail.

As a result, he fell tearing the rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

He had surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff. Unfortunately, the surgery was not successful and he continued to have pain in his shoulder. It was recommended that he have a second surgery. The insurance company claimed that the second surgery was not related to the original injury, even though he had never had shoulder problems before. The insurance company refused to pay for the costs of the second surgery or a fair amount for our client’s pain and suffering.

Partner Allan M. Siegel filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Alexandria, Virginia, alleging that the homeowner was negligent for not maintaining her stairwell in a safe condition and not having a handrail, as required by Virginia law. Ultimately, the homeowner admitted she was at fault, but refused to take responsibility for the full extent of our client’s injuries.

The parties ultimately agreed to submit the case to binding arbitration to resolve their remaining differences. Binding arbitration is a proceeding where the parties submit all the evidence to a mutually selected neutral party, who then decides the contested issues. The arbitrator’s decision is binding, and neither party is allowed to appeal.

The parties presented evidence at the arbitration including medical testimony
from two different orthopedic surgeons. Our client’s treating orthopedic surgeon testified that our client needed the second surgery. The insurance company hired an orthopedic surgeon who testified that our client did not need surgery, and even if he did, it was not caused by the incident. After cross-examination of the insurance doctor by Mr. Siegel, the arbitrator concluded that our client’s doctor was more credible and awarded our client $539,462.

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