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Lawsuit Stemming from Unsafe Fence Dismissed Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Submit Necessary Evidence of Negligence

Lawsuits claiming that one party caused another party’s injuries are based on the legal theory of negligence. While each state has different laws regarding what must be proven in order to succeed on a negligence claim, most jurisdictions require four elements:  duty, breach, causation, and damages. If a plaintiff fails to provide the court with adequate proof of any of these required elements, a judge or jury is not legally permitted to find in the plaintiff’s favor. That is exactly what happened in a recent case filed by a man who was injured on the grounds of a local park.

Wood FenceWheeling Park Commission v. Dattoli

Mr. Dattoli and his wife were attending an event at Wheeling Park. Since there were no seats available, the Dattolis decided to walk to the top of a nearby hill where they could get a good view of the action. However, at some point, Mr. Dattoli wanted to find a place to relax, so he looked for an object he could lean up against. He quickly checked the nearby split-rail fence and placed his weight against the fence. As Mr. Dattoli did so, he fell through the fence and down the hill. He injured his shoulder, requiring surgery and months of physical therapy.

The Dattolis filed a negligence lawsuit against the management of the park, claiming that the management failed to keep the property safe for guests. At trial, the Director of Operations for the park testified. He explained that the fence was replaced last sometime between 1970 and 1990. He also explained that the fence, which was made of wood, had a life expectancy, and the park’s management was in the best position to know whether the fence needed to be replaced. After the trial, the jury awarded the Dattolis roughly $36,000 in damages.

On Appeal, the Verdict Is Reversed

The park’s management appealed the court’s verdict, arguing that the Dattolis never provided any evidence of what could have been done to prevent the injury. In other words, there was no testimony that the park’s management breached its duty to Mr. Dattoli. Since there was no evidence of one of the required elements of the negligence claim, the judge never should have submitted the case to the jury in the first place. Thus, the jury’s verdict was reversed.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a slip-and-fall accident on public or private land, you may be entitled to monetary compensation to help you cover the costs associated with your accident and injuries. There is no going back in time for the Dattolis, who now must live with the fact that they cannot recover for Mr. Dattoli’s injuries. Perhaps had their attorney asked a few more questions or presented additional evidence, the verdict would have been upheld on appeal. This illustrates the importance of a dedicated attorney. Call 770-284-3727 to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney about your case. With an attorney’s assistance, you may be entitled to significant compensation.

More Blog Posts:

The Element of Foreseeability in Georgia Personal Injury Cases, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 3, 2016.

Splitting Up Fault in Georgia Personal Injury Cases, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 23, 2016.