Visitor Question

Do I need a lawyer for a chair injury in restaurant?

Submitted By: Shannon (Marina del Rey, California)

I was dining at Panda Express in Loz Feliz, California.

As I was about to sit down, I went to pull my chair closer to the table when my finger got caught between the cushion and the metal leg. It was lodged in tight and when I finally got my finger out it was bleeding heavily. I notified the manager who took the chair off the floor. This was the only chair that was broken with the cushion completely detached from the leg.

I was given a band-aid and just after a few minutes the blood was seeping out and I knew that I may need to seek medical attention. The manager had me fill out an incident report which I took a picture of. I then went to the urgent care who cleaned it up and placed glue strips on the laceration to keep from opening. The next morning I woke up and my finger was extremely sore and very bruised.

I reached out to the corporate office and asked to open a claim. I had to pay a co-pay for urgent care and I am sure that I will have additional charges that insurance won’t cover.

I received a lengthy email back asking me for medical records, x rays, and so forth, but I have so far only been to the urgent care. My finger feels like it may have slight bone damage due to the pain that I am experiencing.

Should I seek an attorney or just comply with all they are asking?

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 Shannon,

Thank you for the email and we’re sorry about your accident. You can always consult with an injury attorney, even if you decide to negotiate your claim on your own.

Minor injury claims can often be settled without an attorney. The insurance company may be willing to cover reasonable injury-related expenses, so long as you provide copies of your medical records and bills from urgent care, and proof of any other expenses you incurred.

If you claim significant damages, most insurance companies won’t pay unless you can prove the restaurant was to blame for your injuries.

Duty of Care and Negligence

Restaurants owe their customers a duty of care. This means they have an obligation to avoid causing harm to others.

A restaurant that violates this duty is considered negligent. Negligent simply means that the restaurant did something wrong or failed to do what a reasonable person would do to prevent harm to others.

Here, you’ll have to show that Panda Express was negligent in order to recover compensation under an injury claim.

Once you establish negligence, then the restaurant is responsible for any injuries or losses that you suffered. These losses include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering

Proving the Restaurant’s Negligence

To win an injury claim on a negligence theory, you’ll need to show:

  1. The business knew or should have known the chair was in disrepair or otherwise defective.
  2. The business negligently failed to repair or remove the chair.
  3. Their failure to repair or remove the chair was a breach of their duty to keep customers safe.
  4. That negligence was the direct and proximate cause of the patron’s injury.
  5. Your injuries resulted in real damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Given the facts of your case, it’s likely that you can meet requirements two through five. The restaurant failed to remove the chair and this failure violated their duty of care.

Further, the failure caused your injury, and you were damaged.

You might have some difficulty, though, in showing that the restaurant knew that your chair was defective.

Proving knowledge will likely depend on:

  • How long the chair was damaged
  • The number of people employed by the restaurant
  • The frequency that the restaurant’s employees examined the chairs
  • Panda Express’s policies on inspecting store furniture

You probably won’t be able to get evidence of the restaurant’s policies and procedures without legal help.

Comparative Negligence

Although you have every right to seek compensation for your injuries, your compensation may be reduced or denied if you shared some of the blame for the circumstances that caused your injuries.

California’s comparative negligence laws provide a way to divide up fault between all parties when multiple parties are to blame for an accident. Under this set of rules, if an injured person partly caused their accident, then any compensation gets reduced based on their own negligence.

Insurance companies will shift blame to the victim whenever possible, especially when a lot of money is at stake.

Proof of Injuries

If you want to get paid for your injury claim, you’ll have to provide proof of your damages, like the records and bills from your Urgent Care visit.

Your medical records will link the injury to the chair accident, while the bills will show your financial losses. You should expect to recover the full cost of your medical care, not just the co-pay.

Keep in mind that most injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This fee arrangement means the attorney is paid a portion of your settlement money. If you only have a few hundred dollars in damages, you might be better off working directly with the insurance company.

Learn more here: Broken Chair Accidents & Injuries

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

Published:

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