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Taxpayer awarded $862,000 after IRS slip and fall accident

Many accident victims assume that damages for a New Jersey slip, trip and fall claim only cover medical bills. However, compensation is available for other financial losses and, in some cases, non-economic damages, like the diminished enjoyment of life due to an injury.

A judge recently awarded a man $862,000 for a claim against the Internal Revenue Service. The 66-year-old plaintiff said he suffered injuries after tripping over a tangled phone cord in an IRS auditor's office.

The auditor was present when the fall took place. The plaintiff fell against a cabinet, but said he didn't feel the true effects of the injury until he was leaving the audit. He phoned the IRS official after reaching the parking lot to report pain in his shoulder and numbness in his leg.

The injured man stated that got medical treatment for over two weeks in hospitals and then a rehabilitation facility and was confined to a wheelchair. The plaintiff told the judge that sexual activity with his wife was curtailed severely as a result of the painful fall. Damages for the loss of sexual enjoyment due to injury are called a "loss of consortium."

The IRS did not dispute that the man fell, but the federal agency didn't believe the injuries were as bad as the victim made them out to be. A judge acknowledged the plaintiff's suffering with an $862,000 damage award, far less than the $10 million the man had requested.

At least some of the compensation may be returned to the IRS. At the time of the fall, the plaintiff was negotiating with the government about a $60,000 tax bill.

Property owners are can be held liable for injuries that visitors suffer in slip and fall accidents, provided the cause of the accident is linked to the owner's negligence. It's up to a plaintiff and his or her attorney to make certain that a judge and/or jury sees the connection between dangerous property conditions, an injury and a measurable loss.


Source: 
New York Post, "Man wins $862K for tripping at IRS audit" Selim Algar, Jan. 20, 2014

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