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Slip-and-Fall Injury Suffered by Child Litigated Years Later

One recent appeal from the Mississippi Supreme Court involved a slip-and-fall accident that was anything but your typical personal injury case. In this case, the plaintiff had slipped and fell in a store owned by the defendant, but that accident occurred in 1989. He was three years old at the time of his accident.

brain scanHe filed the lawsuit against the defendant many years later when he reached the age of majority. In his lawsuit, he alleged that he was seriously injured because the store had negligently allowed the floor to become slick, and he slipped on this floor. He said that, as he developed, it became apparent that he had suffered various injuries as a result of this fall that caused him to have a significant traumatic brain injury.While it is true that the lawsuit was filed many years after the statute of limitations had run, a minor cannot file a legal action and is considered legally incapacitated, so the statute of limitations cannot expire until the age of majority. There are other types of incapacity, such as physical incapacity, like being in a coma, that will also toll that statute of limitations.

However, it should be noted that, just because a child can’t bring a lawsuit and the statute of limitations will not generally expire, this does not mean that his or her parents should not bring a civil action much sooner on his or her behalf. The case will often be much easier for your personal injury lawyer to prove soon after the accident than it will be many years later.

In the case, the plaintiff’s claims were tried, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, finding the store not liable. However, the plaintiff later learned that one of the jurors was a convicted felon and this was not revealed on the standard jury questionnaire. At this point, the plaintiff moved to set aside the verdict, and the trial judge granted this motion. A new trial was scheduled, but the defendant filed what is known as interlocutory appeal, meaning one that is not from a final judgment. These are rarely granted, but in this case, the state supreme court agreed to hear the appeal on whether the judge had erred as matter of law in granting a new trial.

On appeal, the court ultimately found that the trial judge had erred as matter of law and reversed the decision to grant a new trial. This means that the jury verdict would still stand against the plaintiff. The issue was that, while there is no question that a jury should not have a convicted felon in the box, the plaintiff did not demonstrate that he was constitutionally required to a felon-free juror. This is a rule in most states, but the court found that it was not based upon a constitutional mandate. The court also did not find prejudicial error.

It should be noted that this was a civil case, and the court is not always as quick to strike a jury verdict as they would be in a criminal trial where the defendant has more constitutional protections.

If you have suffered personal injury in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Roberts Company, Inc. v. Moore, March 2, 2017, Supreme Court of Mississippi

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Pontoon Boat Operator Charged With Criminal Negligence in Boy’s Death, Feb. 16, 2017, Boston Sport Injury Lawyer Blog