As an example of an ankle injury from a slip on an icy surface, we relate the experience of our client Gordon, who suffered a right ankle fracture when he slipped on an icy walkway at a motor inn.
Gordon’s fall required that he have surgery. He was off work a period of six months.
Like many cases where a client falls on an icy surface, the key issue was the relative responsibility of the motor inn and Gordon himself for the fall, including the motor inn’s claim that Gordon was intoxicated.
Attorney Dean Brett carefully gathered meteorological records collected at the nearby Bellingham International Airport to demonstrate that temperatures were below freezing and it was snowing on the evening prior to Gordon’s early morning fall. He then took testimony of the motor inn employees to show that they failed in their duty to remove the snow.
Gordon’s witnesses were company executives and their wives who were staying at the motor inn after attending the company Christmas party at a nearby local banquet hall. Everyone associated with the Christmas party testified that drinking was tightly controlled, and they uniformly testified that Gordon was not at all intoxicated. The paramedic who attended Gordon at the scene and carried him via ambulance to St. Joseph Hospital, noted no signs of intoxication. The Emergency Room physician who treated the fracture at St. Joseph Hospital similarly noted no alcohol involvement.
The key defense witness, the hotel night clerk, testified that although she did not see the event occur, several of the above-listed witnesses told her after the event that Gordon fractured his ankle because he had climbed onto a colleague’s back, and was trying to tap on a second floor window to attract the attention of another guest, when they both slipped, fell, and Gordon fractured his ankle. Every witness denied making this statement to the night clerk. The night clerk also claimed that Gordon was drinking in the lobby prior to the fall. Again, half a dozen reputable witnesses contradicted her story. Her credibility was so poor that the motor inn subsequently fired her for misconduct unrelated to this claim.
The claim settled for $175,000, enabling Gordon to fully recover from his injuries and lost income.