Visitor Question

Slip and fall in the parking lot of a local grocery store…

Submitted By: Anonymous (Miramar, Florida)

I slipped and fell in the parking lot of a local Publix. I wet to Urgent Care the next morning because of the excruciating pain in my left shoulder. An x-ray revealed an elbow fracture. I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon for further evaluation. He stated that he felt it was a “very bad” contusion.

I filed an incident report with Publix. However, their liability department informed me they were not responsible for the common area. I later received a phone call from an adjuster with Gallagher Bassett who told me she would be handling my claim. She wanted to take a recorded statement, but I insisted due to not feeling well, she contact me later. She did contact me via email the same evening.

Should I attempt to represent myself or hire an attorney? I am not sure at this point. What are my options?  The accident happened on 7/8/17 and I went to Urgent Care the next day. 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.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

The primary legal issue is one of Premises Liability. Under the doctrine of premises liability, property owners are required to do everything within reason to make sure their property (premises) is safe for all persons legally upon it.

The second issue is one of negligence. Based on the facts, there is no indication you slipped and fell into a pothole in the parking lot, or fell over an obstruction, or as a result of spilled liquids, ice, etc. For the property owner to be liable will require a showing of negligence. The aforementioned causes may all be signs of property owner negligence.

The third issue is an understanding of what “Common Area” means. Common area is property which is normally shared by one or more property owners or tenants. The property owners and tenants all pay in one form or another to have access to that property, and for their clients, customers, patrons, etc., to do so as well. As a result, those sharing the common area are responsible for the safe condition of the property.

Finally, your description of the injuries is somewhat confusing. It appears the x-rays revealed you sustained a fractured elbow, but subsequently, the orthopedic surgeon diagnosed the injury as a “very bad” contusion. The difference is important.

Some injury claims can be sufficiently handled by a victim without legal representation. These injuries normally include contusions, abrasions, sprains and strains of muscles, tendons, ligaments, whiplash, minor burns, and the like. These are referred to as “soft tissue” injuries.

There are other injuries referred to as “hard injuries.” These injuries normally require legal representation by a skilled personal injury attorney, and can include fractures, deep gashes requiring multiple stitches, head trauma, 3rd degree burns, disfigurement, and the like.

There is just too much to lose for a victim representing himself or herself in a hard injury claim. The insurance company will pay out the lowest amount possible because they know the victim has no leverage. “What are you going to do…sue us?” is a silent but real refrain from most insurance companies and their claims adjusters.

That’s where the intervention of an experienced personal injury attorney comes into play. An experienced attorney will quickly analyze the facts and the law in an effort to secure the highest possible settlement for his or her client.

If your injury is a fractured elbow, then your best interests would be served by seeking the advice and counsel of several injury attorneys in your area. Most will not charge for an initial office consultation. After visiting with an attorney you will have a better idea of the substance of your claim and the likelihood of success.

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: August 11, 2017

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