Personal Injury Law (Accidents/Slip & Fall)/32 weeks Pregnant and Injured by a careless store employee
Hi, I am 32 weeks pregnant and was injured at a well-known large discount store a few days ago. I was placing my daughter in the shopping cart seat, with the help of a female store employee. As we just seated my daughter in the cart seat, a male employee who was pulling stacked shopping carts apart, yanked a cart from the row of carts and slammed it into my cart. This resulted in my cart slamming into my large pregnant belly, which caused me hunch over in pain, and resulted in immediate contractions. My contractions were continuous for the next approx 15 mins, while i sat on a chair the store staff huided me to. The female employye who was assisting me to get my daughter in the cart was very concerned as she witnessed the whole event. The male employee who did it acknowledged his error by saying he was sorry. The store Assest Protection manager approached me and gave me a bottle of water after i requested one. while I was seated trying to get my contractions to calm doewn as well as my nerves, i called my OB doctor who had me immmediately report to the OB Triage at the hospital to be checked out and monitored. When I was finally calm enough to leave to go to the hospital, the Assest Protection manager had me fill out an incident report. I hesitantly did this with my still shaking hands so that there was a record of the incident. I spend 24 hours in the hospital with contractions that the doctors feared would cause pre-term labor. My cervix was also changing while i was there, due to the contractions, trauma to my pregnant belly and my unsettled nerves. I was not allowed to eat food while I was there -and when they finally allowed me to, it was 24 hours since I had eaten anything the day of the incident. I was not allowed to have beverage or water while at the hospital for the first 8 hours I was there, this caused me to be dehydrated, which worsened my already bad contractions. I was on IV meds the whole stay, I also had to undergo several very painful pelvic exams which resulted in me hyperventilating, my blood pressure and heart rate sky-rocketing, and my legs to uncontrollably shake for an extended period afterward. I was given 2 steroid shots to help mature my unborn baby's lungs in the event that preterm labor happens. The emotional stress I have to deal with, as well as the unknowns from this incident are driving me crazy. I now have to see my OB weekly at a minimum. I can still go into pre-term labor from this incident. And after seeing on the ultrasound that the part of my belly that took the brunt of the impact was right where my baby's head was, I now have the unknown fear of any possible injury he may have sustained that won't be known till he is born. I received a call from this company's Claims Management center the day I left the hospital, and there wanting a statement from me and wanting to "make sure they file an insurance claim for me to get compensated for my injuries and emotional distress" as soon as possible. I told them that I was not comfortable talking to them, they have my statement from the store that is on the incident report, and anything can happen yet with my pregnancy and my unborn child. Should I seek a personal injury attorney to handle this, since there are so many factors involved, and because of the trauma i sustained as well as my unborn child, and what I had to got thru a the hospital? My husband also had to miss several days of work, that has now caused grief for him with his boss. He also missed a national guard flight training period due to this. My daughter who was with me when the accident happened was upset and confused as to why mommy was crying and why she had to go to the hospital, as was my 7 year old daughter who was worried her new baby brother/sister would be born too early and die. How should I go about this? Should I even talk to the store's Claims Management or seek an attorney?
Thank you for yOur help and response!
Angie: DO NOTHING now except take care of yourself, follow doctor'r orders, and have a beautiful healthy baby!!! In other words, don't worry about the legal end of it at this time. If the pregnancy goes normally and the baby is fine, which I am betting it will, it won't be a big case and probably not of interest to a lawfirm because luckily the damages, although extremely distressing to you and your husband and daughter, don't make it economically viable to file a big lawsuit. Of course, if there is the slightest detectable problem that arises with the pregnancy or the baby that the doctors would attibute to the extremely stupid, negligent act by that store employee, by all means contact a personal injury lawfirm in your city.
So, if everything goes fine, (and I don't suggest you do any of this now nor until you are home with the baby and things are going well), what you would do is obtain documentation of everything that has happened..........primarily the medical records from the doctor's office, the hospital or wherever else. Document your husband's loss of earning and all other financial out of pocket cost you have all incurred. Assuming again you are certain at this time that all is well with the baby, send those documents to the store's Risk Management Dept. Include a letter explaining how traumatic (physically and emotionally) this event has been. Tell them you want all your out of pocket costs paid plus.............whatever.............start with $10,000. Again, this is only if everything is perfectly fine. You may have to wait some period of time until you know this. Months maybe.
Of course if everything is fine, the store will probably offer you a small sum and if you are still angry, you can always sue them in Small Claims for the maximum amount and you would probably win. But there is no harm, no cost to go see a personal injury attorney when you are up to it. You have plenty of time. The PA Statute of Limitations is 2 years.
P.S. I might suggest that you now send a brief letter to that department head at the store saying something such as:
Thank you for your concern regarding the accident and the injuries and damages that I sustained on (date) when your employee banged a shopping cart with force into my 32 week pregnant belly. As a result I have undergone multiple medical procedures and tests and have had pain and obvious suffering since the incident. My husband has incurred signigicant loss of earnings and my entire family has certainly had a high level of emotional distress. However, we must of course concentrate on a successful delivery of my baby at this time. After the baby is delivered and we are able to determine the full extent of our damages, you will hear from us again.