Earlier this week, a former student-athlete for New York University won a $29 million verdict over a building owner after a fall from a fire escape resulted in injuries that rendered her a paraplegic.
The case was especially interesting as the victim’s lawyer had struck what’s known as a “high-low” agreement with the building owner’s lawyer.
In this issue, we’ll talk more about the case and the rising popularity of “high-low” agreements.
The Case at a Glance
While the victim was visiting a friend, the two went out onto a 4th-floor fire escape to smoke. As the victim attempted to go back into her friend’s apartment, she fell through an unguarded opening on the fire escape platform. She fell 12 feet onto a roof below.
Her spine was severed and she is now paralyzed from the waist down.
Her lawyer was able to successfully argue that there was no stipulation in her friend’s lease that gathering on the fire escape was prohibited. And while the landlord’s attorney had maintained that recreational use of a fire escape is dangerous and against the law, the landlord admitted that “tens of thousands of New Yorkers” gather on fire escapes throughout the city.
Lawyers Agree to High-Low Settlement
Before the jury reached its decision, the victim’s lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer struck an agreement for the high-low settlement.
Under their agreement, if the verdict reached was for less than $13 million for the victim, the defense would pay $13 million. However, if the verdict was for more than $29 million, the landlord would be on the hook for $29 million.
Defining the High-Low Agreement
Essentially, a high-low agreement is a form of insurance for both plaintiff and defendant against a jury decision that may be extreme in one way or another.
In essence, the agreement means that no matter what else happens, the plaintiff will receive a minimum amount of money and that the defendant will pay no more than a certain amount. The plaintiff is assured of receiving a minimum and the defendant’s obligation has been capped.
When High-Low Agreement Makes Sense
Here are a few scenarios when a high-low agreement makes the most sense for all parties involved.
- There’s the potential for the defendant to pay much more than they’re comfortable
- The plaintiff needs to make sure they recover some money, in spite of a ruling for the defense, to cover expenses like medical bills, etc.
- The defendant needs to make sure a jury award falls within certain limits of an insurance policy
If You’ve Been Injured By Someone Else, Call The Fitzgerald Law Firm
If you feel that you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, it’s crucial that you speak with lawyer skilled in personal injury law so that you’re properly compensated for lost wages, medical bills, etc.
The first consultation is always free, so call The Fitzgerald Law Firm at 800-323-9900.