No accident report form?

by Judy
(Beltsville, Maryland)

My 87 year old mother was in a supermarket called on July 14, 2014, the day of her birthday. She suddenly stepped on what was a tomato, slipped and fell to the ground. Her granddaughter was only a few feet away and turned around to see a store clerk and a customer trying to help her from the floor.

My mother fell on her arm, her left side, and knee. She was in excruciating pain. My daughter asked for the manager and they said the manager will not be in the store until July 16, 2014. She asked them for an accident report, but they would not give her one. She asked if there was someone else in charge and they said no.

She then called me, so I told her to call the ambulance and take a picture of where her Nan fell. By the time she got back, they had cleared up the tomato. The ambulance came and took my mother to the ER. After a CT Scan and X-ray's, it was discovered my mother had no broken bones or fractures. She was just badly bruised and in a lot of pain.

I decided to go to the store yesterday July 15, 2014 to obtain an accident report form. After asking three people in the store for a manager, as they all said he was not there, I finally found a store clerk who apparently remembers my mother and said there was a manager on sight.

When the young lady came out I asked her "are you the manager?" She said "yes". I told her my mother was there yesterday and fell, and did not fill out an accident report. She said they do not keep forms.

I told her the incident needs to be reported. She said I should just bring the hospital bill and she will get her attorney to pay for it. I told her I don't think that's the legal way to go about it. She proceeded to walk away, saying "my attorney will deal with it", and disappeared into her office.

My question is, how can I get them to make an accident report? If they are not willing to do one, what can I do? I have gone online and created an accident report and took it to the store, but no one will sign it. At this point I am not sure what I can do. Thank you for your time.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "No accident report form?":

Judy (Beltsville, Maryland):

Unfortunately, the store owner or manager is under no legal obligation to create an accident report or sign one you prepared. Additionally, even if the store owner or manager had created an accident, or "incident"'report, they weren't under a legal obligation to give you a copy.

Whether the store is liable for your grandmother's injuries or not will depend on whether the store failed in its legal duty to protect your grandmother from undue harm or injury.

Store owners have what is referred to as a "legal duty of care" to make their premises safe. That duty of care though, is a reasonable one, meaning the store must do everything reasonably possible to protect its customers. In your grandmother's case, if the tomato had fallen to the ground before the store owner or her employees had a reasonable amount of time to remove it, then the store would likely not be liable.

In the alternative, if the store owner or manager knew, or should have known the tomato had fallen, and failed to promptly clean it up or place a "caution sign" near it, then the store would be liable.

Fortunately, your grandmother's injuries weren't more serious. Presuming the store failed in its legal duty of care, your grandmother may have a right to compensation for her medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and an amount for her pain and suffering.

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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