Sign fell and cut my head...

by Keanu
(Hilo, Hawaii)

While on vacation in Los Angeles, my girlfriend and I went to shop in an H&M clothing store in Hollywood. While browsing in the men's section, I was looking (not touching) at a shelf of pants on sale. Just as I turned around, a metal framed sale sign fell from the top and hit my head. It gashed my head with blood running down the side of my head.

The manager at the time claimed to witness the incident and came to help me, although he had no clue what to do but give me paper towels and show me to the first aid cabinet. He filled out an incident report and said he was going to fax it to their insurance company.

An ambulance was called and the EMTs suggested I go to the ER. My girlfriend got all the information down and took pictures of my laceration and the sign and placement.

We went to the ER and waited 3 hours to finally get in a room. I had to get 3 staples, a tetanus shot, and a CT scan. I also needed a follow up to remove the staples several days later, from my local ER in Hawaii where I'm from.

I have been in contact with their insurance company. The balance for all of my medical services came out to $2,300. The insurance company gave me an offer of $250 for a settlement. I told them I'd get back to them with an answer.

My questions are:

How do I negotiate with them to get a higher offer?
Would my situation be necessary to take legal action?
Is it still possible to take legal action if I'm from out of state?
Any other info is well appreciated. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Sign fell and cut my head...":

Keanu (Hilo, Hawaii):

You didn't have to tell the insurance company you would get back to them. As soon as they offered $250 to settle your injury claim should have said, "Not now, not tomorrow, not ever!"

From the facts you present, you did not contribute to your injuries. You were simply shopping. Even if you had been handling the merchandise, doing so would not have in any way diminished or excused the negligence of the store in not properly securing the sign.

At this point legal action isn't necessary. You are still in the negotiation phase of the claim. The negotiation should start well over the minimal amount of your medical bills at $2,300.

At a minimum, you are entitled to damages including reimbursement for your medical bills, out of pocket expenses (such as medications, bandages, costs of travel to treatment, etc.), lost wages (if applicable) and for your pain and suffering.

It would not be unreasonable to begin negotiations at 4 times the amount of your medical bills. Settling for that amount would include compensation for your medical bills and pain and suffering.

It is likely the insurance company will not agree to such an amount, but beginning negotiations at 4 times your medical bills, or $9,300 is not unreasonable. At a minimum you should agree to no less than 2 times medical bills, or $4,600.

If the insurance company will not agree to pay you that amount you should consult with several personal injury attorneys in the Hilo area.

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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