Negotiating with a drug store's insurance company...

by María
(USA)

While waiting to be serviced by the clerk at a drug store, the lady customer being serviced turned and I had to move, tripping on an extended bottom part of the shelf, and fell breaking my arm.

As I laid on the floor in pain, no one from the store came to my rescue until my crying from the pain was louder and they saw I was not able to get up. Then a store clerk approached me asking for money to pay for the phone call to an emergency center using my cell phone, which had no credit time to make the call. I did pay and they didn't make any call.

The clerk helped me up and I had to walk out of the store to find a cab to drive me to a relative's house to help me get to a medical center. The store videos are available to show what and how it happened.

My arm is now healed but lots of pain keeps coming on and off, after two and a half months since the accident. I had never endured an accident as bad as this and for over 45 days I was not able to do any work, as my freelance contracts require use of computers and being able to type.

The store is owned by a major drug chain and they requested me to negotiate with them. I have had two meetings and all I can hear from them is that they have no responsibility because their shelves are from well known manufacturers, but they are willing to pay for my medical bills only.

My life has been greatly affected by this incident and my arm still hurts so much when trying to work for more than one hour continuously. My doctor says he cannot assure when my arm will be fine, as my healing is different from any other person.

What arguments should I present to the store negotiator for them to understand their civil responsibility to me? Is there anything else I should be doing? Thank you for any tips or information you can give to help me resolve this matter.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Negotiating with a drug store's insurance company...":

María (USA):

The drug store's position seems weak. To tell you they have no responsibility for their shelving is ludicrous. Because the drug store is a major chain it's likely there exists surveillance footage of your fall and of the store employee's reticence in providing assistance.

Your injury is serious enough to require legal representation. This is especially true because the drug store's representatives have already denied liability for your fall and resultant damages. In legal parlance "damages" normally include your medical bills, out of pocket expenses for medications, costs of transportation to and from treatment, parking lot fees, etc., your lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Sometimes contributory negligence can be a bar to full compensation. In your case there doesn't seem to be any indication of contributory negligence. You acted as any other customer would have. The shelving should not have been situated in a place which could be dangerous to customers.

Under the legal doctrine of "premises liability" store owners have a legal duty to keep their premises safe for all those who enter legally. A store has a duty to do everything reasonably possible to prevent injuries to its customers. When as a result of negligence a store owner breaches its duty and a customer is injured, the store becomes liable for the customer's damages. In your case it's quite apparent they wholly failed in their duty by negligently placing shelving in an area too close to where a customer might be standing.

Gather your medical bills and visit with several personal injury attorneys. Most won't charge for an initial office consultation. Until you visit with the attorneys your interests would be best served by avoiding further contact with store's representatives.

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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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION