Should my mom retain a personal injury lawyer or just work with the restaurant to pay her bills?

Asked 10 months ago - Schaumburg, IL

My mother and I were at a well known stir-fry restaurant and explained her food allergies to our wait staff. He declined bringing out sauces from the back, saying the likelihood of cross-contamination was minimum. He also said he would inform the chef. Additionally, he neglected to inform us that the restaurant does NOT recommend the build-it buffet for customers with allergies.

My mom had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance after using both of her epi-pens. Every allergic reaction is worse than the previous, and this one rebounded the next day. She lost a day at work and time with me, not to mention upcoming hospital and ambulatory bills. Would it be wise for my mom to find a lawyer for guidance? Can the restaurant be trusted to settle this and pay her bills?

Attorney answers (9)

  1. Stephen Laurence Hoffman

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    21

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Get a lawyer unless your mother only wants her bills paid, nothing for pain and suffering, and understands the process as well as the insurer.

    This answer posted on Avvo is for informational and educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client... more
  2. Steven Adam Sigmond

    Contributor Level 13

    18

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You and your mom should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon a possible. Restaurant managers like to make people happy, but most likely they have liability insurance. The decision of whether to pay and how much will not be made by the store manager, and it's not his money or the restaurant's money that will be spent (or not), so any promises made by store managers are generally hollow promises. Get a lawyer.

    Steven A Sigmond
    Chicago, IL

    A free consultation is not legal advice, nor is the answer to the question listed above or anything posted on this... more
  3. Mario C. Palermo

    Contributor Level 9

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am handling a similar case against Wendy's. Wendy's refused to settle. If experience is a guide, the restaurant will blame your mother and refuse to be accountable.

  4. Chen Kasher

    Contributor Level 15

    16

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It depends on the extent of the bills and injury. If they are limited to a hospital visit, then I would try to settle it pro se. But if there is any permanency or complications, you will definitely need to retain a PI attorney so they do not short-change you.

    This answer is intended as informational only, and does not constitute legal advice or form an attorney-client... more
  5. David Ian Schoen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your mother will not get fairly compensated without a lawyer. Her best bet is to consult with an experienced IL personal injury attorney.

  6. Lee Alan Thompson

    Contributor Level 20

    16

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . When I first was reading my thought was if she just wanted the bills paid and maybe something extra, she could do it herself. However, reading more about the injuries and continued care, she should get an attorney.

    Attorneys on Avvo donate their time and your feedback is appreciated. Be sure to mark the "Best Answer" or Helpful"... more
  7. James Patrick McLane III

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    14

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    Answered . I would use your health insurance to pay your bills if you have health insurance. If those bills are left outstanding and you lose at trial you will be responsible for them. If your health insurance carrier pays the bills they will be entitled to be paid back what they paid on your behalf it there is a recovery. If there is no recovery then they get nothing. I would hate to see you left holding the bag. The best way to prevent that from happening is to protect yourself using all methods of payment available. You can also explore whether the restaurant owner has medical payments coverage attached to their liability policy. I would also consult a lawyer to give you piece of mind about the injury you sustained and whether you can recover from the restaurant.

    My post is for informational purposes only and in no way establishes an attorney client relationship.
  8. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    14

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Always best to get a lawyer. Avvo has a terrific "find a lawyer" tool to find a top-rated Avvo attorney (10) with a low contingency fee (less than 30%) so you don't get hurt twice. Good luck.

  9. B. Casey Yim

    Pro

    Contributor Level 7

    12

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Even if the waiter threattened "bloody murder" the "bottom line" question is still the same: what damages does she really have? Looks like the allergies requiring medication pre-existed the incident, and with the "epi-pens" similar episodes must have happened previously, in other restaurants. The restaurant is not a guarantor. Your mom must take precautions herself to refrain from eating things she knows can do harm. All of that will "mitigate" (reduce) your mom's damages. Then, we have only one day of lost time from work; and no permanent damage over the advanced alergic conditions she already had. Hence, if Restaurant's insurer offers to pay med bills and ambulance service, plus lost time from work, plus some added amount for general damages (guideline is 3x special damages), then take the settlement, and be lucky the insurance co., didn't cut it in 1/2 based on comparative fault.

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