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THE SHADOW KNOWS

A 31-year old man sustained injuries after he slipped and fell in the parking lot of a bank in Danbury, Connecticut. The accident took place just before 5:00 pm on a Friday in February. The man was trying to get into the bank before it closed for the day, when he slipped on what he said was a patch of ice. His injuries were severe enough to keep him out of work for several months. The insurance carrier which covered the bank offered $ 12,000 to the man. He did not have health insurance coverage and his medical bills amounted to more than three times that amount. At the advice of his family, he retained an attorney.

Attorneys representing the insurance company disclosed to plaintiff’s attorney a weather report which had been prepared by a company in Connecticut. The report stated that at the time of the accident, the temperature was 33 degrees. In addition, there had been no precipitation on the day of the accident, nor the day before. Two days prior, there had been a snowfall of three inches. The conclusion stated that ice would not have been present at the time of the slip due to the temperature. With his client insistent that there had been ice, plaintiff’s attorney contacted COMPUWEATHER.

The forensic meteorologist from COMPUWEATHER analyzed the weather on the day of the accident and came to a similar conclusion about the temperature. However more information was needed about the exact location of the slip and fall before a final determination of the condition of the ground could be made. The meteorologist made an on-site visit to the bank parking lot. He observed that the spot where the man had fallen was exposed to direct sunlight until around 10:30 am. After that time, it was in the shadow of the building in which the bank was located. This was a critical observation, since the temperature was a key issue. In the presence of direct sunlight, snow can melt in temperatures as cold as about 25 degrees. But when the effect of direct sunlight is lost, moisture as a result of melted snow will re-freeze. Therefore, on the morning of the accident, sunshine along with temperatures rising through the 20s would have produced some melting of the snow on the ground from the storm two days earlier. Evidence showed that the snow had been shoveled off to the side, but not removed from the lot. The COMPUWEATHER meteorologist’s report went on to state that within one hour after the effect of sunlight was lost, any melted snow which had run off onto the sidewalk would have become frozen into a thin, icy surface. This meant that more than five hours passed in between the time that ice formed in the lot, and the time the man slipped. More than ample time to take care of the hazard, argued plaintiff’s attorney.

With the plaintiff’s testimony that he had slipped on ice now given credibility by the COMPUWEATHER report, his attorney was able to work out a more favorable settlement with the insurance company. The amount of the settlement was $110,000.