Visitor Question

Mirror fell on me causing degenerative cervical disk disease…

Submitted By: Mae (Pacific Palisades, California)

On April 29th around 11:00 a.m. I was shopping with my daughter Hilary at the Vista clothing showroom in the Cooper Building in downtown LA . The showroom was quite full; I’d say there were approximately 15 people shopping. There were some children running and playing close by.  

I happened to notice a rolling clothes rack a few feet away. Leaning on the rack was a mirror. The mirror did not appear to be tethered to a wall or anchored onto the floor. Quite suddenly the children who were running accidentally struck the clothes track, knocking the mirror over on top of me. 

The mirror struck me on the back of my head, my shoulder, and the left side of my back. I later learned the mirror was approximately 7 ft x 4 ft  and weighed about 40-50 pounds. Fortunately, it didn’t break. 

My daughter saw the mirror hit me, while others in the showroom came to my aid. It hurt terribly, causing me to wince in pain. I was in tears, in pain, and in shock. We didn’t get the names of those who came to my aid, but my daughter did take some photos of the mirror and the clothes rack it had just fallen from. 

The woman who was working the showroom called the owner. As we were leaving the showroom, the owner called me. She was concerned and told me to seek medical attention and that she would take care of the bill. I didn’t want to wait hours in an emergency room. Instead, I called my doctor’s office and made an appointment for later that day.

After placing the call I continued to my car. As we walked to the parking lot the fingers on my left hand started to tingle and went numb for a bit. I also began to  experience a severe a headache and ear ache. Then I felt a sharp piercing pain on the lower left side of my head.  

My doctor ordered X-rays. I am currently taking Aleve and Tylenol 3 three times a day, as well as Cyclobenzaprine (muscle relaxer) and Flonase spray to help with my nose and alleviate the pressure in my ear. I was hoping the pain would subside, but I am still experiencing ongoing pain, a constant foggy feeling on the left side of my head, and a continuous ear ache with an inability to clench down on my jaw.

I finally went to another doctor. After an examination and tests, the doctor informed me I have degenerative cervical disc disease. He said the pressure from the mirror falling on top of me could have put the pressure on the nerves surrounding the discs, causing pain.  To relieve the pain and discomfort, the doctor told me to seek physical therapy. 

Is this matter worth pursuing? Do I have a legitimate personal injury claim against the store owner based on negligence? 

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.

Answer

Dear Mae,

The applicable legal issue is Premises Liability. This refers to the legal duties a landowner/store owner has to those persons who enter upon the premises.  Under premises liability a store owner is required to do everything reasonably possible to protect shoppers, referred to as “Invitees,” from undue harm and injury while in the store.

This means the store owner must be vigilant for impending dangers to shoppers and exercise care in reducing or eliminating these dangers.

Most premises liability personal injury cases are based on negligence. To prevail in your injury claim against the store owner will require you to prove the owner was negligent in the care and maintenance of the store, and that negligence resulted in your injuries.

In your case the store owner must have known, or should have known, the mirror’s precarious perch presented a clear and present danger to shoppers. Based on the facts you present, it appears the store owner was wholly negligent in leaving the mirror in a position in which it could fall and injure you. Further, there is no evidence you caused or contributed to the mirror falling on you.

By the age of 60, most people have some degree of disc degeneration. Degenerative disc disease refers to a condition in which pain is caused from a damaged disc. Factors causing discs to degenerate include:

  • Age
  • The drying out of the disc
  • Daily activities and sports cause tears in the outer core of the disc
  • Injuries, which can cause swelling, soreness and instability

The difficulty you will face is proving the falling of the mirror caused you to sustain any injuries, or than it caused an exacerbation of your degenerative disk disease.

To support a claim of negligence will require a physician to be able to state with a reasonable degree of medical (scientific) certainty that the mirror caused you separate and distinct injuries from your disk degenerative disease, or it exacerbated your present condition, and if so, to what degree.

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: June 29, 2017

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