Visitor Question

Accidentally smashed left ring finger in restroom door hinge…

Submitted By: Brittany (Port Huron, Michigan)

I had a few beers (3 or 4) and went to the restroom before leaving the local bar. When I had walked out of the restroom my finger slid into the door hinge while the door was closing itself. I pulled while it was closing and it pulled my whole nail off and nearly ripped the tip off.

Naturally I bled and told my boy friend and we quickly got out to call his mom to take us to the hospital. I had 4 stitches and a fractured tip. I was off work for 2 weeks, only to be told I’ll need surgery as it wasn’t healing properly, and now I’m off for a total of 12 weeks of work with no pay.

I contacted the bar and they said they don’t do accident reports. Can I file a claim to their insurance?

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 Brittany,

The legal issued involved here is one of Premises Liability. Property owners and their tenants have a legal duty to do everything within reason to make sure their premises are safe for all persons legally upon the property. The bar owner may have been the property owner, or a tenant who was paying rent for the space.

The next related issue is one of status. As a bar patron you would considered an “Invitee.” An invitee is a person who is invited onto the property of another, such as a customer in a store, a bar patron, concert attendee, etc. An invitee is to be distinguished from a “Licensee.” A licensee comes on to the property primarily to conduct business. A licensee might be a plumber, electrician, alcohol salesperson, etc.

A trespasser enters illegally. The property owner’s duty to the trespasser is limited. In most cases if a trespasser is injured while illegally upon the property owner would not be liable. However, let’s say the property owner knew trespassers came onto the property with regularity. To deter them, the property owner set up a shotgun so the next time the trespasser came onto the property the gun would be automatically triggered, shooting the trespasser. Such an action would not only make the property owner liable for the injuries or death of the trespasser, but would likely result in his or her arrest.

It is important to note there are two basic forms of property. “Real property” is land, whereas personal property can be cars, computers, cell phones, etc. For purposes of this answer we will use the term property to indicate the bar was situated on real property.

As an invitee, the bar owner, or person in control of the bar had a legal duty to do everything within reason to assure you were safe from dangerous property conditions. The issue is whether the door hinge presented a dangerous condition. To be a dangerous condition the door hinge would have had to be broken, poorly maintained, or improperly installed. If so, you might have the basis of a personal injury claim.

However if the door hinge was a standard one found on most bathroom doors, then the bar owner would likely not be liable. Moreover, if you had been drinking, whether intoxicated or not, the issue of your having contributed to your injury will be considered because you were impaired, however slightly.

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: October 19, 2017

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