My 6-year-old grand nephew, his Mom, and his siblings live overseas and came to the U.S. to vacation with me last summer.
We were shopping at a shoe store in Dallas, Georgia when he smashed into a mirror in the back of the store, obviously thinking it was a continuation of the aisle, and in an attempt to reach his Mom whose image he could see in the mirror.
The entire mirror was shattered but remained in place on the wall. He was shaking, sweating, and screaming but there was no apparent bleeding or swelling. The associates came over and said that he looked ok and had us fill out a form with relevant information.
Mom was sure that she could not pay for a hospital visit since she had no medical insurance in the U.S. She was also scared that she would be charged for the damage her son had caused to the mirror, so she left the store after paying for purchases, and he had calmed down.
Beginning earlier this year, he has been experiencing intensifying headaches. His mom is beginning to suspect that they may be attributed to his accident with the mirror.
How would she go about making a claim with the company for injury or pain and suffering? The claim money would now help her pay for MRIs and treatment that his doctors say would be needed to investigate whether the mirror incident is the cause of his headaches.
The mom and her kids live overseas and were only here on a 6-week vacation from July to August last year.
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.
Dear Christine ,
Thank you for your question. Mom can file an injury claim on behalf of her son with the store’s insurance company. The store may be willing to settle the claim as a good-faith gesture. Otherwise, the boy’s mother would have to provide enough evidence to settle the claim based on a negligence theory.
Filing an Injury Claim
Mom should go ahead and file an injury claim with the store’s insurance company. She can do this even if she lived overseas and did not have medical insurance in the U.S. at the time of her son’s accident.
In filing the claim, Mom should first file a notification letter with the store. The letter explains that her son was injured in an accident and asks the store for its insurer’s contact information.
Once she receives this, then she sends another notification letter to the insurance company providing notice that she wishes to file a claim. The insurance company should respond to this letter in a few weeks.
Evidence of Injury and Fault
The boy’s mother will have to provide evidence linking the boy’s injuries to the mirror incident, along with evidence of the store’s negligence.
Retail stores must do everything reasonably possible to ensure their customers are safe from dangerous conditions that might cause injuries. If the store fails to prevent or correct a dangerous situation and it causes someone to get hurt, the owners and managers are considered negligent.
Negligence is a breach, or violation, of the store owner’s duty of care. That violation makes the retailer liable for its customer’s damages. Damages can include medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses for medicines, lost wages, and the customer’s pain and suffering.
To prove negligence in this case, you’ll have to show that the store failed to act reasonably. You’d also have to demonstrate that the store knew that the mirror posed a serious risk of harm but failed to do anything about it.
You indicated that the mother did not seek medical treatment for her son after he ran into the mirror, and that he didn’t start having headaches until the following year. You mention the boy’s mom is “beginning to suspect” his headaches are related to him running into the mirror.
Without compelling medical evidence, the store’s insurance company will argue that the boy’s headaches are unrelated to the mirror incident.
Georgia and Comparative Fault
If the mother can demonstrate that the store was negligent, the insurance company will likely try to deny the claim anyway on the grounds that the boy and his mom were to blame for the accident.
For example, the insurer may argue that the mom was negligent for letting the boy run loose in the store.
It’s unclear from your email whether mom or the boy was at fault here. But if the insurer does try to pass the blame onto your relatives, please know that Georgia has a comparative fault statute in place.
According to this statute, the injured party can still receive compensation for the accident if they helped cause it. However, the amount they receive gets reduced by their percentage of fault in causing the accident.
Georgia’s Statute of Limitations
In personal injuries involving adults, Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations in place. This statute means an injury victim has to file a claim within two years after the date of the accident or else they’ll lose their right to do so.
However, this two-year period is suspended in personal injury cases involving children. The suspension is in effect until the injured child turns 18. This technically means the boy in this case can file a lawsuit at anytime prior to turning 20 years of age.
It’s a good idea for the mother to contact a local Georgia personal injury attorney for help. Since she lives overseas, a lawyer will help her more effectively communicate with the store and its insurer.
Learn more here: Retail Store Injury Claims
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
We wish you the best with your claim,
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