Visitor Question

Store closing gate hit me on the head on its way down…

Submitted By: A (USA)

I entered a department store while the gate was closing and the gate hit me on the back of my head. The gate continued to come down. There was no electric beam or person monitoring the gate to stop it from continuing to come down.

The incident resulted in a whiplash injury requiring extensive physical therapy and possible surgery. The department store claims that they are under no obligation to monitor the gate as it’s coming down.

Was the department store negligent? Are they responsible for my injuries and treatment? What can I do about this? 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 A,

The store is likely responsible for your injuries and resulting medical bills. This is contingent upon your not having attempted to enter the store at a time when you knew, or should have known it was closed, or closing.

Presuming you were not aware the store was closing, and had no prior warning the gate was coming down, liability may attach. In that case, the store should have made sure there was some sort of an infra-red beam similar to an electric garage door where the gate would automatically stop when the beam was broken.

Stores have a legal “duty of care” to do everything reasonably possible to assure their customers do not suffer undue harm or injury. In this case, it appears they breached that duty. As a result, they should be liable for your damages, including your medical and chiropractic bills, out-of-pocket expenses (medications, bandages, etc.), lost wages, and an amount for pain and suffering.

Because you didn’t give the state in which the injury occurred, it’s difficult to say whether or not your state follows the pure contributory rule, or comparative negligence rule.

If it is a pure contributory negligence state, and it is shown you contributed to your own injuries, even slightly, then you would receive nothing. In the alternative, if you live in a comparative negligence state, you would receive an amount lessened by the percentage of your contribution to your own injury.

Alabama, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia are pure contributory states. The balance of states employ one form or another of comparative negligence

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, 2014

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