Visitor Question

Ladder given for trying on slippers?

Submitted By: Trudy (Omaha, NE)

I asked the store clerk for a chair to sit on to try on a pair of slippers.

She gave me a ladder that was standing against the wall, half in and half out of the dressing room.

She set up the ladder and walked away.

My mother and I couldn’t believe in a department store a ladder would be provided to use as a chair. I sat on it and it collapsed under me. I was left on the floor while the store clerk went to get a manager. The security guard was with in 20 feet but did nothing. The store manager finally helped me up as my mother is 76 years old and could not.

I had pain in my right knee upon standing. The manager filled out an incident report. I took the escalator down the stairs and left due to the pain in my leg. I went to the ER to have it looked at.

They believed it to be soft tissue injury.

The following morning my right shoulder was very painful, with hardly any range of motion without pain. I went to the ER again to have it checked out. I did not want to damage it further without knowing what it was. About three weeks later and still in pain I saw my Dr who gave me a cortisone injection.

The investigator from the store sent me a form to have my medical records sent to him. I did this as I had no intent to sue. He called me only days later and told me he refused to cover my medical bills, no one saw me fall and that my claim was denied.

My right shoulder still hurts and I have an appointment with an Orthopedic doctor recommended by my primary care doctor. I do not know what to do at this point. What can I do to get my medical bills covered by the store? Weren’t they negligent? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Trudy,

Why the investigator denied your claim for compensation for your medical bills is curious. Clearly the store was negligent. Here’s why…

Commercial establishments open to the public are governed by the legal doctrine of premises liability (read more about the duties of property owners and visitors here).

Under the doctrine of premises liability, businesses have a legal “duty of care” to take all reasonable steps to make their premises safe for customers and other persons who are legally upon the property. When a business fails to take those reasonable steps, and that failure presents a foreseeable risk to a customer, the business is said to have “breached” its duty of care. That breach constitutes negligence.

When negligence results in injury to a customer, the business may be liable for the customer’s damages. In personal injury claims, damages can include medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for such items as medications, crutches, slings, etc.), lost wages, and pain and suffering.

It is fair to say the employee knew, or should have known that giving you a ladder to sit on was dangerous and presented a foreseeable risk of injury. However, the issue of comparative negligence must be considered…

The State of Nebraska follows the comparative negligence rule. If a victim (customer) is determined to have contributed to his or her own injury in a percentage of 49% or less, the victim is entitled to recover damages according to his or her percentage of negligence.

If the victim’s negligence is determined to be 50% or higher, the victim is wholly barred from recovering any compensation from the business.

In your question you state, “My mother and I couldn’t believe in a department store a ladder would be provided to use as a chair.” This may present a problem in your claim. It appears you may have been contributed to your injury by sitting on the ladder after realizing it may have been unsafe.

If the investigator continues to refuse to compensate you for your damages, you should seek legal representation.

Most personal injury attorneys will not charge for an initial office consultation. Additionally, they will not charge any legal fees until, and unless they are able to settle a client’s claim or win the case in court. Once settled or won in court, you will be required to pay the attorney between 33% to 40% of the settlement or court verdict.

Seek out several personal injury attorneys in your area. Bring along copies of your medical bills and records. After visiting with the attorneys you will have a better idea of the viability of your claim.

From the facts you present, unless a determination is made that your sitting on the ladder constituted 50% or more of your own negligence, it is very likely an experienced attorney will be able to settle your claim for a fair and just amount.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: December 21, 2015

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