Injured while on vacation...

by Christophe

I live in France but was on vacation in Florida when I was injured. I was walking in the marketplace of the Club Med in Sandpiper bay, when I fell down on the floor due to a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce left on the floor of the restaurant.

I had to go the ER and they told me that I had a fracture of the Humerus bone (shoulder and arm) according to the X-ray.

Who is responsible for my injury? Club Med or the owner of the restaurant which can be a subcontractor of Club Med? How do I go about getting my medical bills covered since I am not a US citizen? Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Injured while on vacation...":

Christophe (Florida):

Your lack of U.S. citizenship does not bar or inhibit your legal right to compensation for injuries sustained as a result of the negligence of a third party in the U.S.

From the facts you present, it appears the restaurant owner was negligent in failing to keep the floor clear of debris. In the United States, property owners, especially commercial property owners, have a legal "duty of care" to take take all reasonable steps to assure their property is free from dangerous defects which could cause injuries to guests legally upon the property.

When a property owner fails in his or her duty to assure guests aren't unnecessarily harmed, and as a result a person lawfully upon the property is injured, the property owner becomes liable for the injured person's medical bills and related costs.

There is a caveat. While property owners may be liable for injuries and resulting damages caused by their negligence, to establish negligence, an injured person must be able to show the following:

1. The property owner had a legal duty to protect the guest from undue harm or injury from dangerous defects in the property

2. The property owner knew, or should have known the dangerous defect on the property existed

3. With that actual or constructive notice, the property owner failed to repair or remove the dangerous defect

4. The guest was injured, and that injury resulted in medical bills and related damages.

Damages can include the following:

- Medical bills, including diagnostic tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computer Axial Tomography (CT Scans)

- Out of pocket expenses for such items as prescription and over the counter medications, bandages, costs of travel to and from treatment, parking fees, prorated gasoline costs, slings crutches wheelchairs, etc.

- Lost Wages

- Pain and Suffering

While spaghetti on the floor of a restaurant is obviously dangerous for guests, workers, and visitors, for the restaurant to be negligent would require the restaurant to have had sufficient time to identify the danger and remove it.

For example, if the spaghetti had been on the floor for several minutes while employees stepped over it, and no one cleaned up the spill, that would be evidence the restaurant owner knew, or should have known there was a danger.

In the alternative, if just minutes before you slipped, a worker spilled the spaghetti and was about to clean it up, then it can fairly be said the restaurant owner was not negligent, as within a very short time after the spill the employee was taking measures to clean up the spill.

If Club Med advertised the restaurant in any of its brochures or advertising, then it can be successfully argued Club Med was responsible for your injuries and resulting damages. In the alternative, if the restaurant advertised they were affiliated with Club Med, then they would also be liable.

Your injuries are serious enough to require legal representation. In the U.S., attorneys who handle personal injury claims are called personal injury attorneys. Fortunately, most injury attorneys do not charge any fees for initial office consultations.

Seek out the names of several personal injury attorneys whose practice is located close to the Club Med where you were injured. Explain to the attorneys what occurred.

From the facts you present, you will likely find several attorneys who will agree to represent you. Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys in the U.S. do not charge any legal fees until, and unless they settle a client's injury claim or win the case in trial. Then the attorney receives a percentage of the recovery or court award; usually 33%-40%.

If the attorney fails to settle the claim or win the case at trial, the client would owe the attorney nothing. It's a "win-win" for you and for the attorney who represents you.

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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