The following is an expert answer given by Florida Premises Liability Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:
Question: I have been reading some of the other posts for slip and falls. I don’t see any information or letters that pertain to grocery carts (not that there aren’t any.) I was at a grocery store with my 17 month old daughter sitting in the front compartment of a grocery cart (she was buckled in) and my son sitting in basket. I felt the cart was wobbling however I knew I only wanted to pick up a few items so it would not take long. Well as my son was getting out, I held onto the cart, however, because the wheels were not secure, the cart tipped over with my daughter in the cart. She fell on her side and injured her hand, however no broken bones according to her Pediatrician. I filled out an accident report with the store manager and he did see the blood on her hand after the fall. A rep for the store called and left me a message today. My question is, am I entitled to any compensation for my daughters pain and suffering? After reading some of the other letters I don’t think the injuries are severe enough to seek an attorney or should I? Do you think it would be necessary to write a letter demanding or requesting a settlement? Thank you for your time! Your site has been very helpful.
Your email does not indicate what state you live in. I am a Florida personal injury accidents attorney specializing in auto accidents, slip and falls, and workers compensation claims. Laws vary from state to state so the best advice I can give you is to consult with an accident lawyer in your area.
Regarding your daughter’s accident, the same standard for negligence should apply. In Florida, a store owner owes two duties to its customers – maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn its customers of dangerous conditions that the customers cannot appreciate themselves. This would extend to a store’s grocery carts and making sure they are in good working order. A cart that tips over on its own while your daughter is sitting in it is obviously not working properly.
Most stores do routine maintenance on their carts so that they operate properly for shoppers. However, just judging by my own experience at grocery and “big box” stores, it is the exception that you get a grocery cart that works properly, rather than the norm. You almost always get a cart with a wobbly wheel. In order to determine whether you have a claim to pursue against this store, you would have to be able to show that this particular store was not properly maintaining its carts. In my opinion, based on what happened with the cart, if your daughter’s injury is serious enough, you should pursue the claim.
At least in the case of Florida personal injury accidents and in most other states, when making a negligence claim for injuries, you can recover damages for pain and suffering, both in the past and if she is going to have pain and suffering in the future due to the injury. Additionally, you can recover damages for past and future medical bills.
You may want to ask the grocery store if they have an insurance policy which has medical payments coverage, also known as “medpay”. Medpay is insurance coverage that will reimburse you for any out of pocket medical expenses you incur for medical treatment for your daughter. The store would also have liability coverage which is insurance which covers claims such as your daughters.
You do have the opportunity to try and settle your daughters claim without an accident lawyer. It just depends on how serious the injury is. For very minor injuries, I would probably suggest putting in writing a summary of how the accident occurred, the reason the store is responsible, and details of your daughter’s injury and medical care. You should include a demand for settlement – a dollar figure – which you would be comfortable settling the claim for. Keep in mind, whatever dollar figure you put down, the store or its insurance company will try to negotiate down from that amount, i.e. aim high.
If the injury is more serious, I would not hesitate to speak with an experienced accident injury attorney. An attorney specializing in negligence claims will know how to proceed on the claim to maximize your daughters’ recovery, and to resolve the claim as quickly as possible. One of the first things you or your accident lawyer would want to do is to advise the store to preserve the cart, without alteration, so it can be inspected to determine why it tipped over.
FOLLOW UP RESPONSE:
Hi Joseph, yes I am in Apopka, FL…sorry about that. Thank you so much for responding so quickly.
My intentions were to write a letter demanding compensation for pain and suffering not for the medical. My insurance covers my daughter’s medical 100%.
When I return the call to the rep for the grocery store should I tell her I will be writing a letter requesting compensation? Can you help me with writing the letter and where the letter should be sent? Should I copy anyone in upper mgmt such as the CEO, CFO, COO, etc? I am willing to pay (if it’s not too expensive).
By the way, with regards to the cart: the manager told the cart attendent to remove the cart after the incident happened.
Thank you again for all your help!!!
You should probably explain to the grocery store representative that you are considering hiring an attorney as your daughter is having significant problems with her injuries. You can inquire about the possibility of a settlement prior to you hiring an attorney. The store will most likely request a settlement demand, preferably in writing, and summarizing your daughter’s injuries, to include an amount you are comfortable settling the claim for. Keep in mind the grocery store will attempt to negotiate down from whatever you demand, so leave yourself room to negotiate.
If you’re not satisfied with the grocery store’s response, I would probably speak with a Florida personal injury accidents lawyer. Most Florida injury attorneys handle these claims on a contingent basis, which means you would not have to pay them anything out of your pocket, but they would be entitled to a percentage of whatever is recovered, usually 1/3 if the claim is settled before filing a lawsuit.
With regard to the cart, you obviously want the cart removed from being used, but you don’t want it destroyed or repaired. If you need to file a lawsuit down the road, you will need that cart to prove liability against the grocery store.
For more information about Florida personal injury accidents, contact Florida premises liability lawyer, Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today.