I was in Macy’s shopping one evening before they closed. While I was at the register checking out, someone dimmed the lights and lowered the metal gate which is the exit for customers to get out of the store. The store closed at 9:00pm. I didn’t get checked out at the register until 9:12pm.
I was told by the cashier to exit out of the store thru the metal gate which was lowered to about 3 feet off the floor. I am 5’9 and 205lbs. When I bent down to go under the gate I lost my balance and the gate came in contact with my entire spine. I fell on both hands on the floor.
After I pulled myself from under the gate I stood up and felt very sharp pains that felt like knives going down my lower back into the back of my legs, and my back was very stiff. I could hardly walk and was very much in pain. I went to the Emergency room and the Dr. said I have sciatica nerve damage and muscle spams/sprains.
I would like to know if the store is negligent? Is there anything I can do?
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Dear Back Injured,
According to the Mayo Clinic…
“Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of (the) body.
Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.”
The legal issue which applies in this case is Premises Liability. Premises liability refers to the legal duty of care a landowner has to do everything within reason to assure persons legally upon the premises are not unduly harmed. When a property owner fails in his/her/its duty of care, and as result, a person is injured, the landowner owner may be liable for the injured person’s injuries and resulting losses.
There are three classifications of persons for whom premises liability applies. They are Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers.
Invitees are persons legally upon real property, or “premises.” (Real property is land, as opposed to personal property which can be items such as jewelry, cars, computers, etc.) Invitees are persons who enter upon a premises as a result of an express or implied invitation of the owner of the premises for their mutual gain or benefit.
As a Macy’s customer, you were an Invitee. Macy’s impliedly invited you onto their premises through advertising, word of mouth, or prior entry.
Licensees are persons who enter upon another’s premises with the landowner’s consent. Licensees enter upon real property for their own purpose or benefit, and not for the purpose of conducting business which might inure to the benefit of the licensee and landowner. Examples of licensee are neighbors invited over for a barbecue, friends invited to a birthday party, etc.
Trespassers are persons who know, or should know they are not invited onto the premises. Examples might be persons who despite a “No Trespassing” sign, climb over a fence to enter onto the premises, including burglars and the like.
In your case. Macy’s appears to have breached its legal duty of care. As a result, they would be liable for your medical bills, out of pocket expenses (for medications, crutches, etc.), your lost wages, and for your pain and suffering.
Because of the seriousness of your injuries, you would be best served by seeking the advice and counsel of a local personal injury attorney.
Learn more here: Department/Clothing Stores
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,
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