In states like West Virginia, the winter months typically bring some snowfall and freezing temperatures. That kind of weather makes for poor driving conditions, but it also results in slippery sidewalks, stairs and other walking surfaces.
Because of the ice, slush and wet surfaces from the weather, slip-and-fall accidents happen all too often during the winter. Of course, a poorly maintained surface can lead to a slip-and-fall injury regardless of the time of year or the weather conditions.
For example, a woman claims that she suffered injuries from a slip-and-fall accident at a Speedway gas station in Huntington, West Virginia. The accident allegedly happened during the month of June in 2012. As opposed to slipping on ice or snow, the woman claims that she fell because her foot got stuck in a substance that was like tar.
The woman filed a lawsuit against Speedway LLC following the accident. The woman's lawsuit alleges that Speedway did not properly maintain or inspect the premises, which caused her to fall and suffer a variety of injuries.
The woman is seeking damages of more than $75,000. In addition to compensatory damages, which would cover the women's medical expenses and other immediate expenses related to her injury, she is also seeking punitive damages.
Under West Virginia law, punitive damages are an extra award to the victim. While not available in many premises liability cases, punitive damages are also a means of punishing the defendant for their wilful or reckless behavior. In this case, the woman claims that following her fall, a Speedway employee apologized for not cleaning up the tar substance sooner. That is likely part of the basis supporting the woman's request for punitive damages.
Victims of slip-and-fall accidents should research their legal options for getting compensation from the property owner. In some cases, this might include an award for punitive damages.
Source: The West Virginia Record, "Speedway removes slip-and-fall case, says more than $75K at stake," John O'Brien, Jan. 2, 2014