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Personal Injury Law (Accidents/Slip & Fall)/Slipped and fell on celery stalk in an Illinois Target last night

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on 10/16/07 at 9:20pm in Illinois I was walking down an isle with a wicker basket in my hand and as i rounded a corner I slipped,  my shoe fell on it's side and i lost my balance and fell on my hands and knees inside the wicker basket I was carrying.  My purse and things in it went all over the floor.  I literally dove face first onto the floor.  I got up quickly and looked around to see if anyone had seen me fall, no one witnessed it.  I was totally embarrassed that I had fallen and wanted to be sure no one had seen me.  I walked around trying to compose myself, since I was a little shaken up about what happened.  I found an associate and we walked back to the slip and fall site only to find my shoe skid mark next to a celery stalk and a few feet later a piece of celery.  so the gentleman picked it up and we filed an incident report.  I was in a rush as well trying to get out of there before the store closed.  So after I filled out the incident report I finished my shopping with sore knees and wrists.  On my way back down a main isle getting ready to check out I noticed 2 clumps of possibly chewed and spit out celery on another corner of an isle.  I pointed this out immediately to associates and told them I had just fallen on something like this and it should be cleaned up.  They picked it up right away.  This morning when I woke up, my back is sore as well as my wrists.  I don't know what I should if anything?  Any advice?  Can I get anything out of Target for this embarrassment?

Answer
Hi Kelly,

In brief answer, you may have a claim versus Target.  What you should do now is to get medical help and to learn about premises liability claims.  I am going to answer your question in four parts.  
#1. Get Medical Help—how to pay for it
#2. Know the Liability Traps Awaiting You if They Interview You on Tape  
#3. Be Prepared for the Kinds of Questions Target Might Ask you.
#4. DO NOT BE TRICKED INTO SETTLING TOO EARLY.

Ready, here we go:
#1. Get Medical Help—how to pay for it
You suffered a hard fall, and your body is going to let you know that in the coming days.  Hence, make sure you GET MEDICAL HELP from a M.D. or a Chiropractor, depending upon where and how your injuries manifest.

Use your medical insurance or HMO to pay for the care you will get.  If you have no such coverage, then use the store.  Target will pay some medical bills without admitting fault.  But it is far better to use your own insurance if you have it.

I know that you think this is going on too far with this one topic, but I HAVE TO TELL YOU that this is a REAL danger that I have seen many times when people ignore those “little aches”.  So just have patience a bit longer and indulge me to tell you this about your hard fall.  I will BET that your body suffered soft tissue injuries.

There may be a dull ache at night following a day at work or some physical activity or pain the next morning.  DO NOT LET LITTLE PAINS GO UNATTENDED SINCE YOU DO NOT KNOW WHETHER THEY WILL CONTINUE OR GO AWAY.  We all hope and believe that such little pains will disappear soon.  But on the other hand, we have no way of knowing since this is the way serious fractures and soft tissue injuries can behave.  

So, when this happens, even if a couple months or more post-treatment, do not hesitate to SEE A DOCTOR AND ATTRIBUTE THE PAIN TO THE ACCIDENT WITHOUT EQUIVOCATION.  It is NEVER TOO LATE TO REPORT PERSONAL INJURIES FROM A FALL ACCIDENT  http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0104.htm   


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#2. Know the Liability Traps Awaiting You if They Interview You on Tape  

Premises Liability (Slip Or Trip And Fall Accidents) http://www.settlementcentral.com/page3006.htm   is an excellent review of premises liability or slip and fall accident confusion as to liability.  There are three good examples on that page to show you the difference between liable property owners and those whom one cannot sue.

The store IS NOT AN INSURER OF YOUR SAFETY.  You can recover ONLY if you can show that the store was negligent.  The duty of the store toward its patrons is one of affirmative obligation to inspect and to remove any dangers.  

But of course if there was an inspection and ten minutes later some celery appeared because a patron spilled it, liability will be a problem.  In this case, you are helped because the store had TWO PLACES with the same defect: to-wit: celery.  This leads us to suspect that they had not made inspection rounds.  

Hence, one might think that liability is clear and there is 100% liability on the store.  But in that assumption, you would be mistaken.  Target abuse of slip and fall victims is a topic you can Google.  When you do, you will come up with dozens of instances wherein Target allegedly fought each and every allegation in claims for injury in their stores.  

So here is your lesson: assume that they will claim that you are at least one-half at fault since if the celery was large enough for you to slip on, IT SURELY WAS LARGE ENOUGH FOR YOU TO SEE.  And your failure to watch where you were walking is clearly a partial cause of your injury.

DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED about that defense, but just be aware that it will be raised if your claim has any value.  Without telling anyone about your visit, go into the store and spot the visual distractions placed in the area by Target.  Since those signs and displays are intended to catch the eye of the shopper, how can Target turn around and contend that the shopper should have been watching the floor?

Take your cell phone or small camera and take some photos of the area.  GATHER ALL EVIDENCE NOW: DO IT QUICKLY AND QUIETLY, without notifying the property owner or store owner just yet.  Leave that for the attorney to do if you get one.
http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0216.htm  Evidence to Support Your Personal Injury Insurance Claim of Premises Liability, Slip and Fall.  

GET PHOTOS

Photographs to Preserve http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0200.htm  Evidence of Negligence

Best Photo Tips for Insurance Claims of Negligence: http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0130.htm  How to Photograph in a Store

http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0161.htm  Store Slip and Fall Photos ARE NOT Trespassing Since if it Public Access



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#3. Be Prepared for the Kinds of Questions Target Might Ask you.
Of course we would like to avoid giving any recorded statement, so ask the questioner to send a list of questions since you do not think well in quick pressure situations.  Fat chance she will do that, but you could try.  At a minimum, be prepared for an interview.

Read below about the significant back and soft tissue injury that I AM SURE WILL show itself over the ten days following this fall.  Be prepared to mention small aches and dull aches that you notice at work or at night.  Do NOT use the word “discomfort”; instead use pain or ache.

As for liability, recall two things BEFORE you are interviewed.  First, once you got back up did you notice whether or not there were tracks through the piece of celery—was it squished with a track of a cart around it?  If it had cart or foot print tracks through it, then we can conclude that it had been there awhile.   Hence, it was there on the floor long enough that the store, in the exercise of its duty, should have seen it.   And second, were there any tracks or footprints around the chewed celery.  

We have not made up a list of questions to expect for the premises liability part of the free side of my website, so you will just have to use the following as a guide to the range of questions to expect.  This is a list of questions insurance adjusters ask http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0207.htm  injured claimants.

Here are two pages that tell what to do now if your have already given a recorded statement to the Target adjuster.  

http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0058.htm  Recorded or Written Statement To The Adjuster After Injury Accident?

http://www.settlementcentral.com/page8014.htm  What to do if you have already given a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster


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#4. DO NOT BE TRICKED INTO SETTLING TOO EARLY.
Watch for long term soft tissue injury as THAT is the real risk.   A bruise mark on your body should be photographed and dated.  Unless you are about one-third my age, your body did not bounce right back up.  It hit that hard surface and you will find that you are going to notice little aches at first, but within a week, I will bet you that those little aches will become constant.  You will not be able to sleep well at night, and if you do anything physical, even chores, your back will ache that night or the next day.  

THAT is the reason Target wants to get you on record NOW and they will hope to make an injury settlement with you ASAP, BEFORE THE FULL EXTENT OF YOUR INJURIES IS REALIZED.

That is why I want you to think long and hard about settling too soon.  What if you settle now, but in three months you are having pains again?  I know from handling injury cases for store falls that there is a REAL RISK of suffering from those injuries for years after the accident.  What is the hurry?  It will be Target that is going to try to hurry.

DO NOT SETTLE YOUR CLAIM UNLESS YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT YOUR SOFT TISSUE INJURIES WILL NOT REAPPEAR ONCE YOU STRESS YOUR BODY WITH PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES OR JUST DAILY LIVING AND WORKING.  That Plays Right Into an Insurance Tactic Regarding Inducing Early Settlement of Injury Claims.  Although Target has no insurance, I will mention what the insurance industry does since Target is always in the position of an insurer: they will fight on liability AND on damages.

Let's just finish up this topic of early settlements so you get the full picture of the advantage to them and the risks to you.  Insurance companies like to settle early because the general damages—claims for pain and suffering—are always minimal, but continue to grow with continued medical/therapeutic care over the months. Therefore, the insurance adjuster will try to settle before the claim merits a larger pain and suffering element. This makes good sense for the insurance company. A claim that is still active after 12 months, with an injured claimant still undergoing treatment, will settle for a lot more pain and suffering money than a claim that is settled after two or three months of treatment.

Your body suffered a VERY LARGE TRAUMA, AND IT LIKELY IMPACTED YOUR BACK and your soft tissue connections in ways we do not yet even know.  OK, maybe for YOU these injuries do not amount to a long term deal if you are young.  But in the case where we have age as a factor (i.e. anything 35 or older), then what you have described to me could be serious.  And in soft tissue cases such as this, the full extent of most injuries is not known immediately after finishing early rounds of treatment, because the injured person has to undergo some of the wear and tear of everyday life, including the pounding her body will receive from a day's work. Even jobs that appear not to be physically demanding can be hard on an injured body.

For example, have you ever stood all day with few breaks, as a store checkout clerk or a jewelry salesperson does? Or sat all day at a computer, as a secretary or phone service center employee does? Many jobs will interfere with healing, and you have no way to know how your body will respond until you have experienced sufficient physical exposure to load-test the scar tissue as you heal.

Plus, who will pay for your medical care incurred AFTER you settle?  What if you were to settle now and nine months later when you are suffering at work and the pain starts to become too much, and you go to a doctor only to discover that you can expect a course of treatment that will cost a lot of money?  After you settle your claim, all further treatment is your responsibility. Except in specific, unusual situations, you cannot go back and re-open a settlement: when you cash the check, you agree to close your claim in all aspects.  

Here is another page from my website that shows in detail why you should never make an early personal injury insurance claims settlement http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0211.htm

And, of course, once you settle, THAT IS IT: you will never see another dime in pain and suffering money.  By the way, did you know that getting an early settlement is a favorite trick of the insurance adjusters?  Please see my website wherein we show Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0092.htm

"No medicine: no money"; medical costs increase worth of personal injury insurance claims http://www.settlementcentral.com/page0045.htm

Just remember these tips above, do your homework, print out your evidence, print out your pictures—ALL BEFORE YOU MEET WITH THE ADJUSTER.  That way she is going to see that you are well organized and she will be more likely to take your case seriously.  Just be patient and show resolve to get your fair settlement, and you will DO JUST FINE.

I trust that my extra time here has produced some information that has been of value to you, and thus I would respectfully request that you take the time to locate the FEEDBACK FORM on this site and leave some feedback for me.

Best Wishes,

Dr. Settlement, J.D. (Juris Doctor)
http://www.SettlementCentral.Com

Personal Injury Law (Accidents/Slip & Fall)

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27 years of front line plaintiff`s trial lawyer experience in PERSONAL INJURY INSURANCE CLAIMS. Along with other attorneys and insurance adjusters, we have created a website to help injured people settle their own personal injury claims. With the help from feedback from hundreds of satisfied members, www.settlementcentral.com has become THE AUTHORITY for Internet personal injury insurance claim settlements. I am humbled and honored if people can benefit from my experience and current volunteer work in helping injured people. I hope I can explain things in a manner that is useful for the questioner. If not, do not hesitate to e-mail me and I will take a second shot at it! Best Wishes for your physical and financial recovery.

Experience



Life Experience: 27 years of front line plaintiff's trial lawyer experience

Organizations:
American Trial Lawyers Association (AAJ)
Washington State Trial Lawyers Association

Publications: (Click on Title to Read)
Statute of Limitations
Vehicle Accident
Accident--Adjuster
Demand Letters
Policy Limits

Education/Credentials: J.D. (Juris Doctor) 1977

Awards and Honors: I am humbled and honored everytime I am selected to help injured people. And when people give feedback that they have benefited from my experience and current volunteer efforts, then that is a double honor and award for me.
 

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