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Confidential Settlement After Child Suffers Infection and Steroid-Induced Diabetes from Slip & Fall

A grocery store’s uneven handicap loading zone created a tripping hazard. As a result, 12-year-old R.M., an immunocompromised boy with mobility challenges, fell onto the asphalt after his wheelchair caught the defect. He scraped his hips, knees, and face. Tragically, his injuries became severely infected, causing a chain of life-threatening illnesses. Steven Chavez of Chavez Law Firm, P.C. represented the boy against the grocery store but needed a way to connect his damages to the fall. The solution: an animation that illustrated how the ADA-noncompliant parking lot caused three consecutive hospitalizations.

R.M. lived with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that causes increasing muscular weakness until loss of mobility occurs. When R.M. fell, the seatbelt that secured him to his wheelchair cut into his midsection. He was taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room and was discharged that night. Unfortunately, his condition worsened, and he suffered septic shock two days later. He was admitted into the pediatric intensive care unit.

The standard of care dictated he needed a high-dose steroid regimen to combat his infection. After 18 days, R.M. was released. He returned to the hospital three weeks later, though, experiencing constant headaches, confusion, and vision blur. Sadly, the life-saving treatment caused steroid-induced diabetes.

Steven Chavez filed his complaint against the grocery store and subpoenaed all records and footage of the incident. As he reviewed R.M.’s medical records, he knew it would be difficult to explain how the boy’s hospitalizations stemmed from the fall. Thus, he brought on several experts to help explain the incident’s nuances: a pediatric disease physician, an endocrinologist, and a construction defect specialist. Then, the team worked with DK Global to create a mechanism of injury presentation that explained the connection between each hospital visit.

The animation showed the grocery store’s surveillance footage that captured R.M.’s fall. Then, to view the mechanism of his injuries, the scene was reconstructed from the front, illustrating his seatbelt and the asphalt abrasing his skin. Photos taken of the parking lot measured a 1.25-inch protrusion from the concrete. R.M. was then shown in the pediatric ICU unconscious from the septic shock he suffered from the bacteria that entered his seatbelt wound. His medical records document the high-dose steroid regimen to treat his life-threatening infection. Finally, the video concluded with a domino metaphor illustrating how R.M.'s damages were caused by the grocery store's defective loading zone.

Preparing for mediation, Steven shared the presentation with the opposing counsel. During the meeting, the Defendants reviewed the animation and offered to settle the matter for a confidential amount larger than what Steven expected.

For over 26 years, Steven M. Chavez has been advocating for catastrophic injury survivors in the New Mexico community, beginning his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Valencia County. Since 2002, Steven has consulted local municipalities regarding their legal affairs and has handled numerous wrongful death, civil rights, and personal injury matters. Steven takes pride in devoting himself to a select number of cases.

"I feel a little dumbfounded that I hadn't worked with DK Global before in my 25 years. If I could practice another 25 years, I hope to work with DK Global another 25 times."
Steven M. Chavez - Chavez Law Firm, P.C.
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