When people think of work injury lawsuits, typically they think of accidents occurring as a result of working with dangerous machinery, or difficult work conditions. However, many work place accidents arise out of fairly mundane circumstances. Take for instance the case of Christina Viernun v. Universal Maintenance LLC; 07L-12068. The plaintiff, Christina Viernun, injured herself at work after falling on a wet floor and sued a carpet cleaner company to recovery damages arising out of the work place injury.
Viernun works at Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center and Health Center, an Illinois medical facility that offers health and social services to family members of all ages. In June 2007, Viernun was walking across a wet carpet onto a tile floor when she slipped and fell on the dry tile floor. The thirty-four year old Viernun sustained a fractured kneecap as a result of the surgery and had to undergo a long and complicated recovery process.
Viernun attributed her fall to the fact that her shoes became wet after walking across the wet carpet, which then caused her to slip and fall on the dry tile floor. She filed an Illinois personal injury lawsuit against Universal Maintenance, the company she alleged had cleaned Aunt Martha’s carpets on the date of her fall. In the complaint, Viernun cited Universal Maintenance’s negligence for failing to place fans to dry the carpets, or lay down butcher paper to absorb the carpet’s water. If it had done so, Viernun contended that her fall might have been prevented because the carpet would not have been as wet.
In addition, Viernun was also critical of Universal Maintenance’s failure to warn her about the wet condition of the carpets. Viernun contended that there should have been something in the line of the bright yellow “Wet Floor” signs that are typically used for wet tile floors. While Viernun acknowledged that wet carpets might not be as hazardous as wet tile, she asserted that wet carpet presents its own danger when located near tile because of the possibility that someone will walk onto the seemingly safe tile with wet shoes. Likewise, the tile itself could become wet as a result of numerous people walking across it with wet shoes. Therefore, Viernun contended that not only should Universal Maintenance have taken steps to diminish the danger of the wet carpet, but should have warned passersby about its dangers.
However, rather than directly addressing the plaintiff’s claims, Universal Maintenance argued that it should not be held responsible because its employees had not actually cleaned the floor on the date of Viernun’s work place injury. The cleaning company argued that had it been cleaning Aunt Martha’s carpets that day, that an invoice would have been generated and submitted to Aunt Martha’s for payment. However, neither Universal Maintenance or Aunt Martha’s Operations Manager had any record indicated that the defendant had cleaned the carpets on the date of incident.
However, despite the heavy evidence presented by Universal Maintenance that suggested it did not clean the carpet on the date of the work injury, the judge presiding at the Cook County bench trial ruled in favor of the plaintiff. A bench trial is a trial where the judge, and not a jury, weighs the facts and enters a verdict. In Viernun, the judge entered a verdict in favor the plaintiff, but did hold her to be 40% responsible for her own injury. Therefore, after the verdict was reduced by the 40%, the award breakdown was:
• $124,987 for medical expenses,
• $200,000 for past and future pain and suffering,
• $200,000 for past and future loss of normal life,
• $50,000 for disfigurement, and
• $18,277 for lost income.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois personal injury lawsuits for individuals and families in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Bridgeview, Warrenville, Naperville, Streamwood, and Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
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