What happens if I fell on a franchise’s property, broke my toe, and they say they aren’t liable to pay the medical costs?

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What happens if I fell on a franchise’s property, broke my toe, and they say they aren’t liable to pay the medical costs?

I fell at a Costco in the food court area. At the time I didn’t know, but after reporting it to a supervisor, we noticed a wet spot, which she then took a picture of with her personal cell phone. I was limping the whole time. I asked the supervisor if she needed my name, but she said, ‘No.’ I then, returned to my job about 5 minutes away. From the time that I fell to the time that I returned to my job, my foot started to throb a whole lot more, as well as the pain getting a lot worse. I decided to call the Costco, and spoke to that same manager, to let her know that I was going to go to a doctor for medical attention. She then asked me, if I wanted her to fax over an incident report. I told her to please do so, then I filled it out, and immediately faxed it back to her. Soon after, I went to the doctor, where I eventually found out that I have a broken left pinky toe, as well as 2 other bruised toes. A few days later, a claims adjuster from out of state, called me to ask me some routine questions. Just before ending the call, the adjuster told me that there is a great chance that Costco may not be liable to pay my medical costs, unless a customer seen the water on the ground prior to my fall, reported it to a Costco employee, but failed to clean it up. That would be the only way that Costco would be liable. She then told me that she would call me in a few days with her decision.

All I want is for my medical costs to be paid Please advise me on what I can do, if anything.

Thank you.

Asked on August 1, 2016 under Personal Injury, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If they (or their insurer) will not voluntarily pay you any compensation, all you can do is sue them. To win, you would have to prove that they were actively "at fault" in some way in causing your fall--that is, the mere fact that you fell in their store does not, by itself, make them liable. Rather, to be liable, you'd typically have to show that:
1) The wet spot caused your fall;
2) They knew about the wet spot (someone had told them), or so much time has passed since the spill, leak, etc. that they logically or reasonably must have known, prior to your fall; and
3) Despite knowing of the problem *and* having a reasonable chance to clean it up, they failed to do so, causing your fall.
If you can prove all this in court, you can recover your out-of-pocket (not paid by insurance) medical costs; there is generally very little or no pain and suffering award for a broken pinky toe.


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