I tripped and fell in a pothole in a shopping mall parking lot ...

by L
(New Jersey)

I was walking from my car to the shopping mall doors, when I tripped and fell in the roadway where the cars pass through. There was a deep set crack and in the middle of the crack was a widened hole, approx the length of my foot and an inch or 2 deep. I went down hard on my knee.

A woman stopped her car, got out and helped me to my feet. I was in a lot of pain and limped to the sidewalk. I pulled myself together and limped inside. I went into the store and pulled up my pant leg to find the throbbing awful pain to be caused by the area just below my knee bloodied and swollen with skin hanging off.

At that moment I left the store and headed for the security kiosk. I told the woman I had fallen outside and she didn't pay me much mind until I showed her my knee...it swelled so quickly!

The security guards checked the wound, cleaned it and took down a report as I had wanted. They asked if I needed an ambulance and I said no seeing that I could bear weight on it. We went outside so I could show them the small 'pothole' that caused my fall. They took pictures of it and so did I, then I limped to my car and went home.

I woke up this morning and the pain was worse. I did go to work but left 4 hrs early to get my knee checked out at a walk-in facility. They took x-rays and nothing was broken. He thinks it is mainly a massive contusion....he doesn't think I tore anything but if this doesn't feel better in the next few days I need to follow up.

Back 18yrs ago I did have surgery on this same knee but it has been healed for years now so, I would think, any injury sustained will be from this fall.

I have a vacation scheduled for next week - Disney of all places - and we are thinking of getting a wheelchair. I don't possibly see how I can be on my legs like that. My excitement and happiness about the trip has been nullified...who knows if I'll even be able to go.

If this ends up not being a 'permanent' injury, and I pray it is not, do I have any grounds here for compensation? Should I file a claim or lawsuit? Thanks for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "I tripped and fell in a pothole in a shopping mall parking lot ...":

L (New Jersey):

You certainly have the basis of a negligence claim against the shopping mall owner(s). At this point your injuries appear to be "soft tissue." If, after further medical evaluation you learn your injuries are more serious, your injury will move from a soft tissue to a "hard" injury.

Fortunately the statute of limitations in the State of New Jersey for settling a personal injury claim or filing a lawsuit is 2 years. You have plenty of time to decide what you want to do.

For now, pursue your medical treatment. Be sure as you continue your treatment and get copies of your medical records, diagnostic tests like MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) an CT Scans (Computer Axial Tomography Imaging), and others.

You may want to visit with some personal injury attorneys in your area. Most will not charge for an initial office consultation. The attorney you choose should be one you're comfortable with. Communication between attorney and client is important.

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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