Is a doctor’s office liable for lost wages and expenses in addition to medical costs regarding an injury suffered in its parking lot?

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Is a doctor’s office liable for lost wages and expenses in addition to medical costs regarding an injury suffered in its parking lot?

A woman parked at her doctor’s office

Asked on September 22, 2019 under Personal Injury, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

They are probably not liable even for the unreimbursed medical bills, but the insurer is likely offering to pay for them since it's easier and cheaper to pay those than potentially fight. The doctor's office is only liable for anything if you can show that it was "unreasonably careless" to have unpaved parking--but since people park on grass or gravel all the time, it is far from clear that it was unreasonably careless to have an unpaved lot.
And even if you could show that they are liable for some things, like the medical costs--and  possibly the physical therapy--they would almost certainly not be liable for the lost wages. Someone is only liable for the reasonable foreseeable, or logically predictable in advance, consequences of their actions. It is not logically predictable that turning an ankle results in missing three months of a paraprofessional job, since even if the injured person could not drive, she could take buses or train, Uber, Lyft, a taxi, etc. to get to work--i.e. since there are many other ways to get to work, it is not reasonably foreseeable that a turned ankle would keep you from working.

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

A settlement with the insurance company for the doctor's office should include compensation for the medical bills, pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills based on the medical reports.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement. Compensation for pain and suffering ad stated above is based on the medical reports. Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.
If the case is settled with the insurance company for the doctor's office, no lawsuit is filed.
If the woman is dissatisfied with the settlement offers, she should reject them and file a lawsuit based on premises liability.
If the case is not settled, the lawsuit must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or the woman will lose her rights in the matter forever.


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