Fell On a Defective Sidewalk at the Mall...
I was injured five months ago at a mall in Salisbury, Maryland. It was a dry summer day and while holding my calm 15 month old daughter, I fell when I stepped up onto a sidewalk and the sidewalk material under my right heel collapsed. The heel of my shoe dropped down into a wide two and 1/4 inch gap between the curb and the sidewalk.
After closer examination, the defective area extended out a great distance and a large amount of calking material was either missing or clasped in. It appeared the problem had existed for quiet some time. I received injuries to my legs and my daughter received emotional stress and discomfort.
Since the incident I've experienced pain and discomfort, visual scarring and multiple conditions associated with the injuries (wound infection and staph infection). My family has been impacted as well (relationship strains, emotional stress, lost time from a planned vacation, disruption in normal daily activities, etc).
I alerted the mall security at the time, however I question the way they handled my complaint - I never saw a written report. Also, even though they were informed several times about my incident and the condition that existed, they failed to follow up by adequately identifying the area as a hazard to prevent others from being injured.
Based on the information I've provided, do you think I have a case? What would you recommend I do to follow-up? Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Fell On a Defective Sidewalk at the Mall...":
Anonymous (Salisbury, Maryland):
Before we can suggest whether you have a case or not it will be important to know who actually owned the property upon which you fell. It could be owned by the city, state, or county. Or it could be owned by a separate real estate holding company, not necessarily related to the mall itself.
Once you've determined who the culprit is you will then need to make a claim upon their insurance company. That can be accomplished by a certified letter detailing what happened and what injuries you suffered. Regrettably you won't really be able to recover any amounts for your daughter's emotional stress and discomfort. That is just too much of a stretch. That claim wouldn't make it past the review by a court or any competent attorney.
To have a claim you will need to prove you have sustainable and medically documented injuries. From the fact you present the most serious medical injury you may have is possible scarring. To substantiate that claim you will need to have a plastic surgeon testify your scar is permanent or that it will last more than a few weeks, and that it was directly related to your fall.
Your claim for emotional distress, loss of consortium, disruption of family life etc. is legally unsupportable. It would be hard to find any court which would allow the issue of emotional distress, loss of consortium and more go to a jury, especially over a fall at a mall.
Basically you may have a small case for scarring. Depending upon where the scar is will determine the worth of the case. Be sure though that the scar is permanent, or that it will last quite some time. If not, all it will really be is a bad cut.
You can also forget about the staph infection and wound infection. Unless they caused serious resulting injuries you need to take some penicillin and call it a day. Although you present a good argument, it is basically worthless. Other than a scarring case, you don't appear to have much else to substantiate a claim.
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,
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