North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Plaintiff who Fell Down Bleachers in Trip and Fall Accident

Under North Carolina law, property owners have a duty to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe for guests. When a property owner fails to abide by this duty, the outcome can be seriously painful or even fatal for an unknowing visitor. If you were injured on someone else’s property, you may have a claim for compensation against the owner of the property as well as the person who was in control of the premises. At Maurer Law, our seasoned team of Charlotte premises liability attorneys is prepared to assist you with ensuring that you receive the compensation that you deserve.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered a case involving a woman who was injured on a set of bleachers at a college baseball game. According to her complaint, when she stood up from her seat and began to move one of the wooden slats in the flooring caught her foot and caused her to lose her balance. She fell down the bleachers as a result of this situation and suffered severe and permanent injuries including a broken back. The plaintiff had no memory of the fall due to suffering memory loss as a result of the impact.

The defendant responded to her complaint by denying that it was liable and alleging that the plaintiff acted negligently and was, therefore, the primary cause of her injuries. The defendant moved for summary judgment, which the lower court granted. The plaintiff promptly appealed.

The appellate court reviewed key facts in the record to determine whether a genuine dispute existed regarding the material facts in the case. It noted that plaintiff referred to the place where she was sitting as her usual spot where she would sit to watch her son play. Her husband testified that he saw his wife stand up but turned his head towards the field immediately after. He also testified that he told her at the hospital that a board gave away and her foot fell underneath causing her to fall down the steps.

The appellate court also noted a dispute about the plaintiff’s expert’s ability to access the bleachers for an inspection. The expert was denied access and the plaintiff sent several communications to the defendant to preserve the condition of the bleachers to facilitate the inspection. When the expert finally arrived, however, the bleachers were being disassembled.

Taking these facts and other key facts in the record into consideration, the appellate court concluded that a genuine issue of fact existed regarding how and where the plaintiff fell and that a jury could have concluded that the defendant failed to use reasonable care in maintaining and inspecting the bleachers. The jury could have also concluded based on evidence provided that the boards were unstable and weak and that the plaintiff did, in fact, catch her foot on one of the boards. It reversed the finding of summary judgment based on this.

Trip and fall accidents can be terrifying, painful, and life changing. You deserve compassionate legal counsel that will guide you through the legal process. Maurer Law offers a free consultation to discuss your situation and whether we can assist you. Call us now at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started.

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