Like one of my elementary school teachers told me: “It can never hurt to ask!” By telling the store about your fall and asking them to pay for your medical bills, you should find out quickly if the store has a no-fault type of insurance called “Medpay” insurance. If the store has Medpay insurance, then as long as your knee treatment is related to the fall, then the store’s insurance should pay (reimburse) you for your medical bills no matter whose fault your fall was.
If the store has no Medpay insurance, then the store still may be responsible for your medical bills (and your lost income, your pain and suffering, and other damages). Just because an injury happens on another’s property, however, does not mean that the property owner automatically is responsible for injuries that occur on the property. Generally speaking, a store is responsible for injuries that occur on its property when: a) The store’s negligence was one of the causes of the injury, AND b) Your negligence was NOT one of the causes of the injury (in the State of North Carolina). Whether or not the store or you were negligent depends on the circumstances. For instance, did the store fail to fix a dangerous condition in its parking lot which the store had known about (relevant to the store’s negligence)? Was the dangerous condition open and obvious to you, but you failed to pay attention to where you were walking (relevant to your negligence)?
When you are injured and you believe someone else might be responsible, the most important thing for you to do is to immediately get good medical treatment. Make sure to give your doctor a complete history, including a run down of all of your injuries. You also should follow your doctor’s treatment advice just as you would if the injuries were your fault. If you normally would get a second opinion from another doctor, then certainly get a second opinion (especially if you are facing surgical or some other treatment with risk of serious side effects). Do not delay your treatment (or have long periods of time between treatments), or the store may question whether the fall was a true cause of your knee injury.
If you have health insurance, then make sure to submit your medical bills as you normally would had you injured yourself on your own property. Some clients get upset and say “my insurance should not have to pay?” I remind these clients that it would certainly be a shame if you lost your claim against the grocery store and were stuck with your medical bills that otherwise would have been paid by your health insurance. Go to physicians that are covered under your health insurance policy. Submit your bills to your health insurance company in your normal timely way and sort out which of the insurance companies is ultimately responsible later (thereby ensuring that YOU will not be stuck with them).
After you have called (or been to an appointment with) your doctor, then call an attorney so that you can begin to sort out who is responsible for your injuries, medical bills and other damages. Please call one of our highly qualified paralegals to set up a meeting or a phone conference with one of our attorneys.
William C. “Bill” Trosch