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Suing for Slip and Falls: What's Your Suffering Worth?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

If you have fallen and been injured, you probably want to sue someone, and that is a typical reaction. For example, the former superintendent of the Monterey, California school district is suing the city of Monterey for an injury that she says will bar her from wearing stylish heels and dancing with her husband for life.

Marilyn Shepherd is seeking $750,000 for an ankle injury from a city pothole, and her husband is making demands too. Does that mean you should sue? Let's look at her case and what it may say about your chances of recovering if you pursue your own lawsuit.

The Claims

According to Shepherd, she stepped into a pothole in Monterey in 2014 and hurt her ankle, and this injury changed her life. She is seeking $750,000 for her suffering, saying it "will forever prevent her from wearing the latest fashion in high heel shoes, walking on a sandy beach, and dancing with her husband."

"These permanent limitations, coupled with inability to enjoy the day-to-day pleasures of life as a married couple, and temporary loss of sexual relations, significantly disrupted their common interests and social lives," Shepherd's complaint states. But that is not all.

Additionally, Shepherd's husband seeks $50,000 for the suffering he endured from seeing his wife fall in a pothole and while his wife was hurt. The couple complains of a change to their social and sexual lives, which should be compensated they say.

The City of Monterey does not seem entirely moved by the claims. It says that it investigated the pothole and that it was less than an inch deep, specifically 7/8 of an inch. Still, they were willing to talk settlement, although the parties could not agree and it seems the case will continue to trial.


Recovery for damages is only possible when someone is injured and negligence is shown. There are four elements to negligence -- duty, breach, causation, and harm (sometimes call compensable damages). Not all injuries are due to the negligence of another, but if youcan prove that someone owed you a duty, breached it, and that this breach was the cause of a harm that can be compensated, you will recover for your injury.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you have been injured, speak to a lawyer. No claim can be assessed in the abstract, so have an expert review the facts and get guidance on your claim. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your claim.

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