Appeals Court Reverses Judgment in Kentucky personal injury case

by Mandy Hicks

Under Kentucky law, a person who is injured on the job is entitled to benefits such as temporary and permanent disability payments and medical expenses. Usually, these benefits are less than what the worker would have received in a negligence case against someone other than his or her employer.

Thus, an employee who is hurt at work may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party whose negligence contributed to an injury at work. Of course, the third party has an incentive to assign as much fault as possible to the employer, even though the employer is immune from liability in the negligence case.

Facts of the Case

In an unpublished case recently decided by the Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals, the plaintiff was a 74-year-old woman who worked as an administrative assistant at a place of business that leased office space in a shopping center in Beattyville, Kentucky. The plaintiff was severely injured when she sat down on a picnic table, and it collapsed; the table was situated in a grassy area behind the business for which the plaintiff worked. She was waiting for her son to pick her up from work at the time.

The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant landowner, seeking compensation for her injuries. The defendant filed a third-party complaint against the plaintiff’s employer, alleging that it had placed the defective table on the premises prior to the accident. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Court of Appeals’ Decision

The court reversed the lower court’s order granting summary judgment to the defendant, agreeing with the plaintiff that there were genuine issues of material fact that precluded a summary judgment order in the defendant’s favor. Although the defendant argued that the fact that the plaintiff’s employer admitted to having placed the allegedly defective picnic table on the premises relieved the defendant of any liability for the plaintiff’s injuries, the court disagreed.

The court quoted the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 360 (1965) in stating “a tenant’s knowledge of a dangerous condition will not absolve the landlord from liability.” Despite the actions or knowledge of the plaintiff’s employer, the defendant still had a duty to reasonably maintain the property’s common areas. In the court’s opinion, genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether or not the picnic table area was a “common area.”

With regard to whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to discover the allegedly defective condition of the table if it was located in a common area, the court stated that a reasonable juror could find that the defendant could have discovered the condition upon regular inspection of the area. The court noted that the table was in an open, outdoor area and was obviously dilapidated.

Schedule an Appointment with a Knowledgeable Kentucky Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been hurt because of the negligence of a business operator or landowner, you should talk to an attorney about filing a claim seeking monetary compensation for your injuries. The experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley can help. Call us today at (270) 781-6500 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your Kentucky or Tennessee personal injury case. We also handle car accidents, truck crashes, product liability claims, and more.

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