Injured by Chair at Casino...
(Daly City, CA)
I am in my 50's and was attempting to leave an aisle within an Indian Casino when I fell very hard to the concrete floor and into an adjoining chair's metal foundation, causing severe injuries.
This fall was a direct result of the casino chairs being positioned too close together by the casino workers. It resulted in my right foot getting caught in the large stabilizing metal construction of the chair as I attempted to walk around it.
When my foot became caught in the metal part of the chair, my entire body weight was already transferred catapulting me hard to the concrete floor, with my elbow and shoulder slamming into an adjoining steel chair resulting in severe injuries to my hip joint, elbow and shoulder joints.
In addition, I sustained a broken bursa sac to the elbow joint which is taking several months to heal. My hip joint was a previous injury diagnosed with moderate arthritis with the likelihood of a THR within 3-5 years.
This fall greatly exacerbated the old hip injury resulting in tremendous pain and more medical intervention, such as cortisone shots and possibly accelerating the time frame in which I should consider surgery for a THR.
The casino worker witnessed the entire incident as well as the video camera right above. The casino provided EMT personnel promptly and I went to the ER on my own. I also visited with my personal physician, and my orthopedic doctor as well for further evaluations and consultations.
The design of these chairs can be described as very large, cumbersome, and are equipped with a series of bulky metal circular stabilizing disks. These chairs are not what I would describe as "user-friendly" when you attempt to move them.
Can I sue for personal injury against the Indian Casino for knowingly providing defective chairs and positioning them too closely together causing risk of falling to the patrons? Or should I sue the chair company or sue both?
Lastly, may I also include as part of my lawsuit "pain and suffering" for exacerbating my old hip arthritis which has caused me terrible onset of problems? Thank you!
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ANSWER for "Injured by Chair at Casino...":
Mark (Daily City, CA):
You may have a legitimate personal injury claim against the owners of the casino. Presuming you were not drinking any alcohol just prior to the fall your claim may be valid. If you were drinking alcohol the likelihood of prevailing in any claim will be remote.
Refusing to be taken to the hospital may work against you. A fractured bursa sac of the elbow joint is extremely and immediately painful.
A bursa sac is "a small fluid-filled sac lined by synovial membrane with an inner capillary layer of slimy fluid (similar in consistency to that of a raw egg white)... It provides a cushion between bones and tendons and/or muscles around a joint. This helps to reduce friction between the bones and allows free movement." (definition from Wikepedia)
You wouldn't have been able to move your arm without suffering serious pain. That fact conjures up some credibility issues. The Casino will undoubtedly ask Why a man in his fifties who just suffered an extremely painful broken bursa sac would refuse to be transported to a hospital.
Presuming you didn't have any alcohol in your system at the time of your injuries do the following:
You don't have to sue anyone. First contact the casino management and remind them of the date and time of your fall. Tell them although you declined to be transported to the hospital at the time of your fall, you did nevertheless sustain serious injuries.
Ask them to refer the matter to their insurance company. If they do, a Claims Adjuster will contact you. Cooperate with the adjuster. They will initiate an investigation. If she believes the casino was in some way negligent she may agree to negotiate a settlement. If the adjuster declines, then your only recourse will be to file a lawsuit.
Filing a product liability lawsuit will be a major undertaking. You will have to be able to find an attorney who agrees with your position that the chairs are defective. If she agrees then a lawsuit may be possible.
You must realize the company who manufactured the chairs will never agree that the chairs are defective. If they did they would have to remove thousands of them from the casinos. Regrettably you will probably be in for a long legal battle.
Since laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions, you should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state (if you haven't already). Find an experienced local attorney to give you a free personal case review here.
Best of luck,
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