$1.2 Million Dollar Settlement – Lack of Railing results in Wheelchair Fall – Facial Fractures

Attorney Faulkner recovered 1.2 million dollars in the settlement of a lawsuit for a Salem man injured when his wheelchair fell from an elevated sidewalk at a strip mall in Norwich. Rita and Tim Grant sued the owner of the property on behalf of their 23 year-old son who suffers from cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound.

The fall occurred when Rita Grant was attempting to bring her son to a barbershop located at the strip mall. Near the barbershop door an elderly woman asked Rita for help in opening the door. Rita turned to help, removing her hand from the wheelchair. When she turned back, the wheelchair had rolled to the end of the sidewalk and had fallen more than 3 feet to the dirt area below. The absence of a railing at the end of the walkway was a violation of the Connecticut Building Code. Photographs showed that a railing had been at the site at some point before the accident.

Tony Grant suffered fractures of multiple facial bones, the loss of four front teeth, part of the jawbone, and many cuts and bruises. Shortly after his arrival to Backus Hospital in Norwich, he was taken by life star helicopter to Hartford Hospital where he spent seven days. There, he had surgery on his face during which metal plates and screws were installed. While in the hospital, he had a grand mal seizure. After discharge, he underwent extensive treatment for a bed sore. His medical bills were just over $100,000.00.

A critical, significant ruling eliminated the property owners’ claim that the mother was at fault for her son’s injuries. Superior Court Judge Emmet Cosgrove struck the defendant’s apportionment complaint concluding that the defense could not stand because she was immune from liability for her son’s accident under the rule of parental immunity. The rule is usually confined to children, but Judge Cosgrove found that Tony, even though he was 23, was essentially a child because of his medical, intellectual problems and needs such that his mother should be protected from blame by this rule of immunity. The rule of parental immunity is meant to protect the harmony of the family.

Attorney Faulkner was able to obtain a settlement for 1.2 million dollars after two full days of mediation. His parents were planning to use the monies to have a handicapped bathroom and an in-door pool installed which will provide Tony great therapeutic benefit given his wheelchair confinement.