Hospitalized with severe illness after getting cut by metal clothing rack...
(Haddon Heights, NJ)
I was looking at clothing that was on two racks placed side by side on an end cap of an isle. These clothing racks were the kind on wheels. As I walked between the clothing racks, I was cut on my leg by the base of the rack that had no rubber guards on it.
I bled from my cut but thought it would be ok, so I went home and cleaned it and put antibiotic ointment on it, thinking it would heal. Instead it got infected and cellulitis set in and I became sick with vomiting.
When I felt ok to drive a week later, I went back to the store and reported it to the assistant manager, who took my information and filed a report. He said the manager would call me, but he didn't call. A few days later the home office called to see how I was doing. I told them I got worse and would like them to pay for my medical treatment. She said she would call me back but didn't.
In the mean time I developed a fever and went to the emergency room, where they confirmed cellulitis developed from my cut and gave me antibiotics. I got extremely worse with a high fever and went again to an emergency room at a closer hospital and was admitted.
I was treated and released, only to have to go back in the ER again two days later with now very severe sepsis and was put into a drug induced coma and on a ventilator. I was about to die. I also contracted pneumonia and went into respiratory failure. A month later I was released to a re-hab where I stayed for 28 days and came home on home health care.
I took pics a week after my injury of the clothing rack, showing it didn't have a rubber guard to protect people from getting cut. Its frame work was metal and also hollow, containing years of contamination bacteria inside.
My questions: Is there a law that says you must report an injury the day it happens? Can the store still be held responsible for my injury? What are my options here? I had a lot of medical treatment and pain and suffering and would like to be compensated. Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Hospitalized with severe illness after getting cut by metal clothing rack...":
Josephine (Haddon Heights, NJ):
Meet with an attorney immediately. Your injuries are too serious for you to attempt handling the claim on your own. You can be confident the store will take the position your injuries occurred sometime after the day you allege the injury occurred, and from an entirely separate incident.
The State of New Jersey does not have a law requiring victims to report their injuries to stores or other commercial establishments on the day of an injury.
Nonetheless, you should have reported the injury the day it occurred. You didn't, and that will hurt your claim. However, all is not lost. You can ask the store to give you copies of any videos they may have of the incident. It is unlikely they will cooperate, but they will at least know you are serious about pursuing the claim.
Don't worry about rushing to settle your injury claim. In the State of New jersey a victim in a personal injury claim has two (2) years from the date of injury to settle the claim or file a lawsuit. This is called the "statute of limitations."
Seek the counsel of several experienced personal injury attorneys in your area. Bring along copies if your medical records, receipts for out-of-pocket expenses, and a letter from your employer verifying any lost wages you sustained while treating and recovering from your injuries.
What you need is proof of injuries. You have such proof in your medical records.
Attorneys have much more leverage than you. While the store can refuse to give you copies of the videos, they will have to give them to your attorney, especially if your attorney files a lawsuit and subpoenas those videos. Once you visit with several personal injury attorneys in your area you will have a better idea of the viability of your injury claim and the general amount it may settle for.
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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