North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for College Stadium in Trip and Fall Case Causing Permanent Back Injuries

North Carolina law states that property owners have a duty to guests to keep them reasonably safe from harm. This applies to private property owners as well as operators of large venues like sporting arenas. Just because a venue hosts hundreds or even thousands of people at a time does not imply that the people responsible for operating it exercise appropriate caution. If you were injured at a large venue due to what you believe may be a dangerous condition on the property that could have been warned against or fixed, then you may be entitled to compensation. At Burton Law Firm, our Raleigh premises liability attorney is prepared to help you assert your rights and receive the compensation you deserve from a negligent party.

In a recent claim, a plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the operators of a college baseball stadium alleging that she suffered serious injuries when her foot caught on a loose board causing her to fall. She stood up from her seat preparing to exit the bleachers when her foot caught, and she tumbled down the bleachers to the walkway below. She suffered permanent injuries stemming from a broken back. She lost consciousness at the time of the accident and therefore had little to no memory of what happened.

In response to her complaint, the defendant alleged that the plaintiff acted contributorily negligent at the time of the accident and that the allegedly defective bleacher board was not the direct or proximate cause of her injuries. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on these grounds and the trial court granted it.

On appeal, the appellate court concluded that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the defendant breached its duty to the plaintiff by failing to fix or warn against the floorboard where she was seated. One of the main disputes identified in the record was the ability of the plaintiff’s experts to examine the bleachers for the purposes of the litigation. Plaintiff sent an expert to examine the bleachers, but the expert was denied access to the premises on multiple occasions. The expert was eventually granted entry to examine the bleachers but at this time the bleachers were being deconstructed. This made it nearly impossible for the expert to determine the state of the bleachers at the time the fall took place.

Additional evidence in the record suggested that the plaintiff was aware of the board because she referred to the spot as her usual seat while other evidence suggested that the plaintiff was not able to tell how weak and unstable the boards were based on appearance alone. Based on this, the appellate court reversed the order of summary judgment for the defendant and remanded the case for additional proceedings on plaintiff’s claim for negligence.

If you were hurt on someone else’s property in a premises liability accident, it is important that you speak to an experienced and knowledgeable North Carolina personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to understand your rights and options. Attorney Jason Burton represents personal injury accident victims throughout the state and offers a free and confidential consultation to discuss your situation. Call today at 1-833-623-0042 or contact him online to get started.