It was a tight squeeze – and when a woman operating an electric power wheelchair lost control in a church bathroom, a lawsuit and hefty verdict was born. Plaintiff Olsen, age 69, was run into by Reid, in a women’s bathroom at her church. Reid, who was trying to get into the restroom, pinned Olsen’s knees underneath the bathroom vanity. Unfortunately, Olsen, who had already had two knee replacements, suffered serious injuries, which included a broken right leg that necessitated screws and rods.
Olsen’s injury has caused ongoing pain and suffering, including limited range of motion, depleted strength and leg pain. It also caused a medical bill to the tune of over $60,000. Tired of her ongoing struggle, she filed a lawsuit against Olsen, claiming that Olsen’s failure to control her wheelchair constituted negligence that led to her personal injury.
The lawsuit was contentious. Reid claimed that building codes relieved her of negligence for Olsen’s injuries. Olsen pointed out that her injuries would necessitate ongoing in-home care. Ultimately, the jury decided to award Olsen $250,000. However, the argument didn’t stop there – Reid filed a motion to reduce damages owed by nearly $60,000 under a precedent that states that plaintiffs may only recover medical expenses actually paid. The court granted Reid’s motion, and an appeal by Olsen is ongoing.
Olsen’s struggle for compensation for her injuries isn’t uncommon among personal injury victims. The use of the appellate precedent to challenge damages found by the jury is just one example of ways in which defendants can try to use the system to escape paying for their negligence and lack of care. Luckily, Olsen and her legal team are not giving up the fight for justice. Only time will tell if the appeal will yield the full verdict for Olsen or whether she will have to continue her struggle with her personal injuries without the full award.