Hit on the neck by metal bar attached to a shopping cart...

by Lexie
(Las Vegas, NV)

I was shopping at a clothing store, and while I was looking through clothing in the aisle a mother and daughter were behind me. All of the sudden I was struck on the shoulder/neck area by the bar that connects onto the shopping cart (which makes it impossible to leave the store with the cart).

The little girl had pulled the metal bar out of its holster and she couldn't hold onto it because of the weight and it ended up hitting me.

I filled out an incident report. The manager gave me a phone number and told me to call the number before I did anything. I called and they were already closed. I wanted to go to an urgent care facility but the urgent care nearby my home also was already closed. My neck is stiff and I'll be calling out of work tomorrow.

I will call the number the manager gave me and go to urgent care. Is getting a lawyer a bad idea since this is a soft tissue accident? Is there something else I can do? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Hit on the neck by metal bar attached to a shopping cart...":

Lexie (Las Vegas, NV):

You allude to a "soft tissue" injury. Soft tissue injuries normally include sprains and strains to muscles, tendons, ligaments, whiplash, minor bruising, minor burns, abrasions, and the like. At this point there you have no evidence of a soft tissue injury.

A "stiff neck" could be the result of a sprain or strain to muscles, ligaments or tendons - or it could just be a stiff neck. You won't know until you seek medical care. In the event you are diagnosed as having sustained a soft tissue injury, you may have the basis of a personal injury claim against the store.

Stores have a legal duty of care to do everything reasonably possible to assure that their customers aren't injured. In this case, that legal duty of care included making sure the poles attached to their shopping carts did not come off under normal use. This was obviously normal use.

You were right to have the store's manager complete an incident report. Ask for a copy. While the store isn't under a legal obligation to give you a copy, they may agree to do so. In the event they will not cooperate, and a personal injury claim is filed, your attorney will be able to subpoena the report.

At this point, it is unlikely you will find an attorney who will accept your claim. If your injury is diagnosed as a soft tissue injury, and you require only ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, and similar medications, you wont have much of a claim.

You do though, have a right to ask the store to pay for your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and for your pain and suffering. However, if you don't require much more than one visit to your doctor or a clinic, and don't have to miss work, then the store won't likely offer you much money, if any, for your pain and suffering.

If the store won't cooperate, you can always file a lawsuit in small claims court.

For more information about Nevada's small claims process go here.

In the event your injuries are more serious, and require more than a visit to a doctor or clinic, then you should seek the advice and counsel of a personal injury attorney. In that case, gather your medical bills and records, receipts for out of pocket expenses such as medications, and a letter from your employer verifying the days you missed work and the amount of wages lost.

Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys do not charge for initial office consultations. If you find an attorney to accept your injury claim, he or she won't charge any legal fees until, and unless the the claim is settled or won at trial.

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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