Learn how to build a strong insurance claim for your slip and fall accident or other gas station injury. Get the compensation you deserve.
You can’t beat the easy in-and-out of a gas station convenience store. You can fill your gas tank, carry out fresh coffee, and grab a box of donuts in one stop on your way to work.
There are more than 122,000 convenience stores selling fuel in the United States, racking up over $200 billion in sales annually.¹
In addition, there are more than 11,000 stand-alone gas stations throughout the country, also raking in billions of dollars each year.²
Gas stations and convenience stores have a never-ending flow of customers. More than 263 million vehicles travel American roads, and all but a handful rely on gas or diesel fuel to run.³
Most owners do their best to run clean and safe businesses. Unfortunately, mistakes and plain old greed can cause hazards in any industry. It’s no surprise that gas stations and convenience stores are prime locations for customer accidents and injuries.
Convenience Store and Gas Station Injuries
When you pull into a gas station or convenience store, you have access to the pumping stations, parking areas, restrooms, the checkout counter, and a section with shelves of food and drinks. Each area has its own potential for hazards. Common causes of accidents:
Slip and falls are the most common cause of gas station injuries. Slip and falls may be caused by cracked or uneven pavement, pooled gasoline and oil, accumulated ice and snow, poor water runoff, and debris left in aisles. Poorly maintained restrooms often have spilled water, soap, and other fluids on the floor.
Gasoline and diesel burns result from leaking pump handles or hoses and spray from faulty shutoff valves.
Vapor inhalation scorching occurs in improperly ventilated pumping areas or from vehicle carbon monoxide that drifts from repair bays where engines are running.
Faulty nozzle triggers can cause lacerations when the trigger mechanism on the pump handle becomes sharp or abrasive from wear, when the trigger mechanism malfunctions and fingers become pinched, or when the hose twists and snaps the pump handle back into the face or torso.
Assaults can happen when owners fail to provide a safe environment for customers with adequate security measures and lighting.
Vehicle collisions may result from poorly designed parking lots.
Fires can erupt when customers carelessly toss cigarettes onto the pavement, when the station has exposed and poorly insulated wiring, or when there’s static electricity.
Types of injuries suffered at gas stations and convenience stores:
- Back and neck injuries
- Thermal burns
- Chemical burns
- Broken bones
- Head wounds
- Concussion and other traumatic brain injuries
- Soft-tissue sprains, strains, bruises and scrapes
How to Build a Winning Injury Claim
Gas stations and convenience stores are regulated by state and federal laws to protect the environment and ensure that fuels like gasoline and diesel are stored and sold safely.
Whether you’re there to buy gasoline, or just stopping in to buy a soft drink or a newspaper, operators of convenience stores and gas station have a legal obligation, called a duty of care, to avoid causing harm to others. Their duty of care includes doing everything reasonably possible to make sure customers are safe from dangerous conditions that might result in injuries.
The station/store owner does not have a duty of care to protect customers from an unforeseen circumstance. For example, the gas station probably won’t be at fault if you’re injured by a huge flock of attacking birds while standing next to your car.
If the insurance company blames you for the circumstances that caused your injuries or denies your claim for any other reason, don’t give up. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights.
If management fails to prevent or correct an unsafe situation anywhere on the property, and the unsafe situation causes a customer to get hurt, the gas station or convenience store owners are negligent. Negligence is a violation of the company’s duty of care.
Negligent business owners are legally liable, meaning responsible, for damages caused to injured customers.
Damages include the cost of medical and mental health treatments related to the accident, out-of-pocket expenses for medicines, lost wages, and the injured customer’s pain and suffering.
Most often you’ll be filing an injury claim with the store’s insurance company. Some claims settle outside of court, others proceed to trial. Either way, your winning claim must show several facts.
Your Winning Injury Claim Must Show:
- A hazardous condition caused your injuries
- The station/store owner knew or should have known of the hazard
- The station/store owner failed to remove or repair the hazard
- The hazard was the direct cause of your injuries
- Your injuries are medically verified
Example: Winning Claim for Injury Caused by Gas Pump
Sandra pulled into a gas station to top off her tank and get a large coffee on her way to work. As she pumped gas into her car, the hose began to tear away from the gas nozzle, spraying her face and eyes with gasoline.
Sandra was immediately blinded and in extreme pain. Frantic to get away from the gasoline, Sandra twisted and fell, breaking her collarbone.
Other customers saw the accident and ran to help. The convenience store clerk heard Sandra’s screams and called 911 but had no idea what to do for her. Several minutes passed before paramedics arrived and began flushing her eyes and treating her other injuries.
Sandra suffered chemical burns to her corneas that left her with compromised vision for several months. Her broken collarbone limited her to the use of one hand. Because of her injuries, Sandra was out of work and unable to care for herself and her family for nearly a year.
Although her physical injuries slowly healed, Sandra was severely traumatized by the extreme pain, the fear of catching fire while drenched in gasoline, and the helpless terror of blindness. She required mental health services for two years to cope with nightmares and other symptoms of traumatic stress.
Sandra’s personal injury attorney filed a lawsuit against the convenience store on her behalf, blaming the convenience store management for neglecting to:
- Regularly inspect gas pump equipment
- Have reasonable first-aid supplies on hand to treat gasoline exposure
- Train employees on what to do when a customer is injured
Sandra’s attorney also filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the gas nozzle.
Sandra’s claims were supported by witness statements, video footage from the convenience store security cameras, and her extensive medical and mental health treatment records.
Also, through litigation, the convenience store executives were forced to give deposition testimony about the store’s policies and procedures, and to hand over copies of company records.
Sandra not only won full compensation for all her damages from both companies, but because her attorney was able to show the convenience store’s willful negligence, she was also awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in punitive damages.
Strong Claims Have Good Evidence
Evidence is the key to victory in any personal injury claim. No matter how badly you’re injured, the insurance company is under no obligation to accept or pay your claim unless you can prove their insured was negligent.
Collecting good evidence starts the moment you’re injured. The worse thing you can do is leave without saying a word and to “see how you feel” in a couple of days. It’s almost impossible to bring a believable injury claim if the accident isn’t reported when it happened.
Speak with the manager: If you’re hurt, immediately ask for the owner or manager. If unavailable, an employee will do. Report what happened and how you were injured.
For example, after washing your hands in the restroom, you pulled down on the towel dispenser. It jammed, and as you pulled it again, you sliced your hand on the jagged edge of the metal intended to separate the towels. Show the manager exactly where it happened. Ask for medical help. You may need stitches or a tetanus shot.
Take notes: Keep detailed notes and records on all aspects of your claim. Be sure to write down the full name and job title of the person who takes your accident report. You’ll also need the name and address of the store’s insurance company, and the name and contact information for their corporate office.
File an incident report: Big corporations with corporate rules own most convenience stores and gas stations. The store manager may not want to send an incident report to the main office. Insist the manager fill out a report and ask for a copy. Be sure to provide your name, address, and other contact information.
Get prompt medical attention: If you think your injuries are serious enough to require paramedics, don’t be shy. Ask the manager to call 911.
For example, if you slipped and fell on some boxes left in an aisle inside the convenience store and now your leg hurts a lot, you may have fractured a bone. The worst thing you can do is pay for your soda and limp back to your car. Remember, it’s not your fault. Convenience stores and gas stations are heavily insured.
Never refuse or delay medical treatment. The insurance company will deny your claim in a hot minute, arguing that your injuries aren’t related to the convenience store accident. If you aren’t taken directly to the hospital by ambulance, you must have a medical evaluation as soon as possible.
Look for witnesses: Witness statements can be very strong evidence. While family and friends are good witnesses, independent eyewitnesses are much better. They have no stake in the outcome, so the insurance company gives their version of what happened greater credibility.
Act quickly. Most folks at convenience stores and gas stations are in a hurry. Try to speak with anyone who saw what happened. If you find a cooperative witness, get their full name and contact information. Ask the person to write down what they saw, and to sign and date their statement.
Take pictures: Using your cell phone or another device, take as many photos and videos as possible. If your injury prevents you from photographing the scene, ask a friend, family member, witness, or even a friendly employee to assist you.
Remember, once the incident is reported, the problem will likely get fixed the next day. Once that happens, it’s more difficult to prove what caused your injury.
Look for surveillance cameras: Security cameras can be very small and sophisticated, so ask the manager if you don’t see one. Tell the manager you’ll want a copy of all camera footage taken around the time of your injury.
Although the manager may not let you see the video, its mere existence can be about the best evidence there is. Cameras don’t lie.
You can be confident the gas station’s insurance company will look at the video. If you have serious injuries, your attorney will demand the store preserve the security camera footage.
Get proof of damages: Once you’ve established negligence, the next step is to give the insurance company evidence of your damages. Request copies of your medical records and bills, and save receipts for medicines and other related out-of-pocket expenses.
If you had to miss work while receiving treatment, ask your employer to give you a written breakdown of your lost wages, lost opportunities for overtime, and to list vacation and sick time used while you recovered.
Complicated Claims Need an Attorney
Minor gas station injury claims are usually straightforward and can be negotiated directly with the insurance company. You’ll rarely need an attorney to get fair compensation for soft tissue injuries like bumps, cuts, scrapes, bruises, sprained tendons or ligaments, and sore muscles.
You can figure out how much your claim is worth by totaling the cost of your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages. Add one or two times that amount for your pain and suffering.
Put your demand in writing and enclose copies of your bills, receipts, lost wage statement, and other evidence.
Look like a pro with this sample Injury Claim Demand Letter.
Claims for “hard” injuries are a different story. Hard injuries include severe burns, head trauma, complicated fractures, or other severe, potentially permanent injuries. Hard injuries are high-dollar, complicated claims.
The corporations that own convenience stores and gas stations make billions of dollars, and don’t want you to get any of it. They might pay a little to make you go away, but will never offer what your severe injury claim is worth if you don’t have an attorney.
There’s too much at stake for you to face the insurance company on your own.
When you’ve been badly injured at a convenience store or gas station, get the compensation you deserve. It costs nothing to find out what an experienced personal injury attorney can do for you.
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Gas Station Injury Questions & Answers
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