Partial Liability Slip and Fall in a Store...
(Savannah, GA USA)
On August 9, 2011 my husband slipped and fell in a major chain gas station. There were wet floor signs in two places in the store, but not in the area of the slip and fall. After falling, my husband was helped up by an employee of the store; he sat for several minutes, then asked if there was any kind of paperwork or report that he needed to fill out.
The employee who helped him up informed him that the manager was busy with a vendor, so my husband, not knowing what else to do, paid for his purchase and limped out of the store.
I called the store less than five minutes later and demanded to speak to the manager immediately, and I then informed her of the incident, at which point she told me she was busy trying to deal with a vendor. I requested that she pull the security tape right then and review it. She did this, and watched my husband fall on film; she alleged that there was sound, so she heard everything being said.
I was contacted by the general manager of the chain gas station that evening, and the following day he informed me of their insurance information.
I called the station's insurance company August 11, 2011. I requested x-rays, and informed them of my husband's unique situation: he is a 100% disabled veteran, whose sole insurance is the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and that he had a pre-existing back condition that was now seriously exacerbated.
I informed them that I was going to take my husband to my local emergency room for x-rays, as the nearest VA facility capable of x-rays was 2 hours 50 minutes away; it was not an option to take him that far with his back in that much pain.
The x-rays were done, indicating no fractures, but the ER said he should probably have an MRI, which is scheduled for later this month to determine the level of further damage.
The insurance adjuster informed me today (September 6, 2011) that they would only accept partial liability as a courtesy.
I find this a bit absurd, seeing as there were no 'Wet Floor' signs in the area where the fall occurred. There were 'Wet Floor' signs by the entrance, on the opposite side of the store from the fall, and by the check-out counter, also on the opposite side from the fall. (Imagine a square store, with the front entrance being in the middle of one side of the square; he turned right to go towards the drink wall, opposite the entrance, and the checkout counter would be left, so he was nowhere near a wet floor sign.)
I would like to argue the liability issue, how can I do this? Can I request a copy of the store's video and the reports from the local agent who did the interview, as well as the claims adjuster's file? Any tips you can give on how to win this claim would be appreciated. Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Partial Liability Slip and Fall in a Store...":
Melissa (Savannah, GA USA):
Arguing the liability issues in the case will be difficult. From the facts you present the injuries to your husband, if any, have yet to be documented. You state the upcoming MRI scheduled for later this month is “to determine the level of further damage”. The problem is, to have “further damage” you have to have “damage” - and it appears you do not.
From the facts you present it doesn’t appear you have yet established that your husband suffered any damage other than having to limp out of the store. You stated “The x-rays were done, indicating no fractures.” Your husband’s emergency room visit didn’t produce any evidence of lacerations, contusions, abrasions, sprains, breaks, or even any cuts or bruises.
You state your husband “limped out” of the gas station, but other than his limping there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of any injury. Limping out of a store, in an of itself, does not constitute an injury.
Many people, young, old, and disabled, have fallen, having to limp for a few minutes until their leg or foot felt a little better. Limping isn't proof of injury.
In these types of cases major companies are always on the lookout for “slip and fall scams" which have no real merit. Many times people slip and fall in stores and just because they fell automatically think they are in for a free payday, that the slip and fall in an of itself is a ticket to enriching themselves.
Stores don’t pay money just because someone slips and falls. If they did, people would be slipping and falling all the time, hoping for a quick payday. Somehow these people feel just because they fell, that somehow the store owes them money. It just doesn’t happen that way.
You do not have a legal right to see the store’s video of your husband’s fall. The video and everything on it, is the private property of the store, and its owner. You ask for advice on “winning” you claim. From what we have seen you will assuredly lose. But it's always advisable to contact an attorney for a more specific case review.
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,
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