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Hip Replacement Necessary for Man Injured in Preventable Fall on the Job

In a city as famously rainy as Seattle, wet floor caution signs are non-negotiable. That’s especially true for a store like Home Depot, where massive garage-style doors, moving carts, and large nursery sections are bound to bring a bit of weather inside. While a little bit of precipitation can seem harmless, one wrong step can send passersby tumbling to the ground. A warning was all one Seattle Home Depot would have needed to provide to prevent Bob Sinclair from slipping in a puddle and falling on the polished cement floor. However, the store’s failure led to an injury that would impact the rest of Bob’s life.

Bob, a repairman for the store’s alarm systems, was called in one stormy day to fix the wiring in the Seattle Home Depot. Rainwater from a customer’s cart had collected into a puddle between the alarm system and the store entrance, where Bob could was checking system’s service. He didn't make it as far as the door before he lost his footing on the slippery floor. Bob’s left leg twisted awkwardly, and he plummeted to the ground. As soon as he got back up, Bob recognized that something was wrong with his hip. The pain only worsened over the following months. A doctor examined Bob’s hip and informed him that he needed a hip replacement. It was a grim reality for Bob, an active lifelong Seattle resident with an abiding love of golf.

Shortly after the fall, Bob called personal injury attorney and old family friend John Walsh for help. John got to work on the case but ran into roadblocks early on. First, the insurance guarantors avoided him. Next, the first doctor who examined Bob’s hip declined to participate in the litigation process. Then, their medical experts left them high and dry. John wasn’t deterred, though. He knew that the Defense would change its tune once he could paint a clear picture of Bob’s accident.

While John initially considered hiring a liability expert, he realized that focusing on the injury was a more impactful strategy for the case. He knew that showing a prospective jury how the injury occurred and helping them understand the mechanism of injury was the highest priority. John approached DK Global to work on an animation of the accident soon after the case came across his desk.

The video began with a bird’s eye view of the accident site, followed by a clip of CCTV footage showing a customer pushing a cart piled high with large bags of mulch. The cashier inspected the wet cart and made a cursory attempt to wipe the floor with a towel using her foot. Then, the video showed her tracking water across the floor as she walked to where the cart had been originally. Shortly after, the Plaintiff appeared on screen and walked directly toward the puddle of water on the floor, where he slipped and fell. Next, the video transitioned to an animation of the Plaintiff’s fall, first in real time and then slowed down to show the exact mechanism of his fall. The animation replayed and described each step of his fall until he hit the ground with his right knee. The animated depiction of the Plaintiff became translucent to show his skeleton and the motion of his hip bone at the time of the accident. Scans of the hip then appeared on screen, the Plaintiff’s hip injury highlighted in red.

The Defense initially came to the table with a paltry sum of $7,000. After a judge remanded the case back to King County court, the settlement offer rose to around $16,000. However, once the Defense saw the animation of Bob’s accident and trial depositions began, they knew they’d have to return to John with a respectable offer. The two sides settled mere days before the case went to trial for $250,000.

John Walsh is a personal injury attorney operating out of Seattle, Washington. He began his law career in 1982 with an initial focus on criminal defense, which gave him a vast amount of trial experience before he transitioned to personal injury cases. He is also an active member of the Trial Lawyers College Northwest.

"Story is everything for a trial lawyer. If you're going to tell that compelling story, if you're going to achieve the justice that your client deserves, you have to add those elements of the story that bring it to life."
John Walsh — Law Office of John P. Walsh
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