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Our client’s wife, a 78-year old woman, was found at the bottom of the basement stairs at a neighbor’s house. They had been over celebrating New Year’s Eve and she had left the table to go to the restroom. None of the other guests saw her fall. She suffered a severe skull fracture and died approximately seven hours later as a result of her injuries. She had not been drinking.
We contended the fall was the result of the unsafe condition of the stairs. They were steep, dark and had inadequate handrails. Most importantly, the neighboring homeowner had removed the door at the top of the stairs which allowed someone to accidentally enter the stairwell. The homeowner’s insurer contended that the stairs were not unreasonably dangerous, that it could not be shown that the condition of the stairs had caused the fall, and that, if anyone was to blame, it was the victim, for not exercising ordinary care to avoid falling down the stairs.
Prior to trial, the insurer offered $40,000.00 to settle the claim. The case was
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