While shopping in a BIG BOX home improvement store yesterday a piece of lumber (2X6 approx 30" long) fell seven feet causing head trauma. I was diagnosed with a mild concussion. Have had severe headaches for over 24 hours. The impact did not require sutures. The board was on top of their shelving unit and unseen by me. I was removing weatherstripping from the bin when it fell. One of their employees was within a few feet of me at the time and rendered no assistance. The store management took over twenty minutes to begin an accident (incident) report. i stated that at that time that I was not seeking medical attention, but did reserve the right to do so later. My employer had me go to an Urgent Care center for treatment.
Speak with a recommended personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Obtain the follow-up medical treatment that is justified. Your headaches may linger and become chronic, If you try to ignore the headaches and short change yourself on treatment, you will likely be lessening your chances for the best medical improvement while hurting the evidence that needs to be developed if in fact you choose to make a claim in the future. Otherwise, now would be the time for someone to return to the store to photograph the area where your injury took place so as to preserve as much of the evidence of the condition as possible in case the configuration of the area changes. Working with an attorney on this matter will provide you with a resource that should best allow you to protect your interests.
You do have a claim. The store has a duty to make sure the shelves are safely stacked with merchandise. The store will likely try to blame the placement of the board on another customer. The issue will then be whether they knew the board was placed there or whether they should have known the board was placed there. They may also allege that you were contributorily negligent for pulling on weather stripping which then caused the board to fall. This argument will depend on what you could have seen or felt before the board fell on your head. You will need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer for this claim. A finding that you were contributorily negligent or that the Store had no actual or constructive notice of this problem will result in your claim being defeated. This is likely a claim that the store will deny which will require you to pursue the claim in court.
You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing.
Assuming you have injuries significant enough to warrant filing a legal claim, your attorney should immediately send a preservation letter to the store, demanding that they retain, unedited, the surveillance tapes which may show your injury taking place.
If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
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