Child slipped and broke her elbow in a grocery store freezer section...

by Laurie
(South Lake Tahoe, CA, USA)

My child hurried to switch out her ice cream bars before checking out at the grocery store. She slipped and fell in front of the ice cream freezer and broke her elbow. I, her mother, was so concerned about her I did not stop and look around to see if there was ice or water or anything else that would have caused her to slip. I was in another part of the store when she fell as well.

After I got to my child we were quickly distracted by the manager on duty, who right away was trying to say it was my daughter's own fault and she probably was really not that hurt. The manager tried to convince me to go home and not take her to the ER.

Another employee was behind us and he looked as though he was searching for a cause of the fall. Or maybe covering up the evidence...I don't really know. My daughter was wearing a pair of house slippers that had rubber soles with traction on them. I don't believe the slippers were the cause of the fall.

The insurance company for the store has paid for my daughter's doctor bills, but they are saying my daughter is at fault because of carelessness - going too fast in the store and the slippers. I did not admit to anything. I don't think I did at least.

Can I take this claim any further? Like some compensation for her pain and suffering? This happened the 26th of August 2011. The insurance company of the store has sent me paper work that they want me to sign, saying my daughter was at fault. I have not signed anything. Thank you so much in advance for any help you can provide.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Child slipped and broke her elbow in a grocery store freezer section...":

Laurie (South Lake Tahoe, CA, USA):

What you present in your facts is a bit confusing. Normally insurance companies don't agree to accept liability and pay medical bills, and then turn around and not accept liability and say it was the injured party's fault. The insurance company would never say the injury was your daughter's fault and pay her medical bills. Paying her medical bills is in itself an admission of liability.

The insurance company is probably requesting you sign the release papers. Once you sign them your legal rights to purse the case any further will be lost.

You can always consider filing a lawsuit against the store. If the insurance company has already agreed to pay her medical bills filing suit probably won't garner much more than what had already been paid.

Although pain and suffering are actionable issues, they normally won't be available unless you either negotiate that extra amount over the medical bills, or fight it out in court.

You might consider not signing the papers until the insurance company agrees to pay you an additional amount for your daughter's pain and suffering. If you had to take time off work to transport her to medical treatments, or had to stay home from work to care for her, then ask the insurance company to reimburse you for those lost wages as well. Also, if you paid any out of pocket expenses, such as prescription or over the counter aids for your daughter, you should include those amounts as well.

A good place to start negotiating an amount for pain and suffering is by multiplying the medical bills by 3x. So if your daughters medical bills totaled $2,000 dollars, you should request an additional amount of $6,000 dollars for her pain and suffering.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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