Not such a Safe Way to Slip and Bang my Head on Concrete!
January 25, 2014 9:04 PM   Subscribe

Earlier this evening, as I was entering a large chain grocery store from the upstairs patio entrance, I slipped on the wet tile surface as I was about to open the door, fell, and banged my head hard against the concrete outer wall of the store, glasses flying off my face. What steps should I take now to ensure that I am protected should I experience health consequences from this in the future?

It has been misty here lately, so I guess the mist collected on the square outdoor tiles and made the surface slippery. My body (below the head), clothing, and glasses all seem to be OK, however there is a bruise above my right temple where I hit the wall, and I felt a pounding pain there until the two painkillers they gave me at the store kicked in (though I can still feel it slightly).

I immediately went to Customer Service after this happened, and described the incident to the evening manager, who made some notes in a small notebook, took my number, and told me I would hear back from an actual (daytime) store manager within a day or two. I made it clear that I would like a copy of the footage from the security camera right outside the door I was entering as documentation of the incident. (Are they obliged to provide this to me?) I am hoping this will pass without any permanent or worsening consequences, and I generally prefer to avoid hospitals unless absolutely necessary, so I am not inclined at this point to head to Emergency for an X-Ray (although I might feel differently about that if I were to still be feeling this pounding in a couple of days).

Does anyone have any suggestions as to the best way to proceed here? Is there something I'm not doing which those of you who have been in a similar situation realized only later that you should have done immediately? If it makes any difference, I am in Canada (so I do have gov't medical insurance).

posted by tenderly to Law & Government (12 answers total)
You should really get checked out by a doctor. If you wait to long you might have trouble getting it covered.
posted by dchrssyr at 9:10 PM on January 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure you can do anything about head trauma after the fact, but you should go see a doc if it's causing you pain.
posted by discopolo at 9:11 PM on January 25, 2014

It is very easy to get a concussion from even a minor fall. It would probably be a good idea to get checked out if you can at all afford it. You might also start hurting in your neck or back or elsewhere after the shock/adrenaline wears off.
posted by emjaybee at 9:37 PM on January 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Go to the doctor right away and get checked. It will establish your record of injury.
posted by Miko at 9:45 PM on January 25, 2014 [10 favorites]

Your instincts seem to be working against your instincts...

You asked them for the footage of the event, but you're saying that you don't want to go to the hospital.

Going to the hospital to be checked out IS THE STEP you should take now to ensure that you are protected should you experience health consequences from this in the future...

If you don't have that exam from directly after the fall, there will always be reason to suspect that whatever problem you have in the future could be due to something that happened later.
posted by jardinier at 10:12 PM on January 25, 2014 [13 favorites]

Talk to a personal injury lawyer right away. Don't communicate with the store without consulting your attorney first.
posted by ADave at 10:15 PM on January 25, 2014

Seriously, it could be serious. An internal haemorrhage could have you dropping dead within a week. Did you lose consciousness at all?
posted by Sintram at 10:55 PM on January 25, 2014

Before anything else, absolutely get checked out at the hospital/by your family doctor ASAP, and then follow the exact recommendations the physician gives you -- fill the prescriptions, follow-up as directed, see that specialist, have that follow-up x-ray in a week, whatever. Personally, I would seek medical treatment before getting an attorney (if you get one), because if you get the attorney first, it looks like the attorney is driving your claim from the get-go. Also, having a diagnosis and treatment plan will help you find the right attorney. You don't know what you need until you know what you have.

You also need to get checked out, because, without medical records or medical bills, you don't have much of a case. In my experience (in the U.S.), you can't successfully pursue a claim (now or in the future) without proof that you have a claim for something. The longer you wait to get medical treatment, the less value your case may have, as (1) it becomes more and more difficult for you to prove causation for any injury you have sustained, and (2) it looks suspicious that you didn't get treatment for something you may later seek compensation for. And if you fail to follow instructions given to you by the medical professional(s) you see, then you've failed to mitigate your damages and/or have gaps in treatment (which imply that your injury resolved). You gotta cover your butt here.

(I'm not a lawyer, etc.)
posted by coast99 at 10:58 PM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

When friends of mine were in a taxi hit by a truck, they called their lawyer from the ER (although they had been taken there by the ambulance). Sooner rather than later is the idea here.

(Are they obliged to provide this to me?)

See, this is where the lawyer comes in. Before you even mentioned this to the store you should have spoken to a lawyer, who then could have obtained a subpoena (I ... think that's right, that or an injunction against destruction of evidence) for any video record of the incident. As it is you've now given, say, a guilty shift manager who knows he wasn't putting down enough salt an incentive and opportunity to cause a ... recording accident. Whoops! Funny how that one camera was all static that night.

But no, without a civil tort action there's no obligation. By using a lawyer you can create that obligation and force them to cough up the video.

Also good to have (next time): phone numbers of anyone who saw your fall.

So, I haven't had a liability type claim myself, but I have had a head injury and concussion. Get thee to hospital and they will examine you, ask you if you know who's President, and probably stick you in the MRI tube for a sec. This examination may poke and prod you, but it will be essential for later legal purposes. It will also help make sure you're doing OK, and maybe get you a prescription for any not-OK that you're feeling (I was on hydrocodone for a month, and maximum dosage of headache pills for six months). Concussions can sneak up on you and hang around for quite a while.
posted by dhartung at 1:05 AM on January 26, 2014

Just back from Emergency; Doc says I'll survive! ;)

Actually, he said there's close to 0% chance I'll have any further problems from this, but should there be any further developments there is now a record in the system. Anyway, probably for the best that I went just to be on the safe side, so thanks to all who encouraged me to do so!
posted by tenderly at 1:22 AM on January 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

Get a lawyer and pursue a claim against the store. Slip-and-fall due to moisture on the ground is the number one source of customer injuries for grocery stores. Because of this, it's one that stores should be taking active steps to avoid (sweep sheets documenting frequent and regular checks by employees, "caution wet floor" signs used when needed, things like that) and one that they're used to paying claims for.

It's also the most commonly faked injury, so the store will definitely check the camera footage to determine whether your fall was a genuine one. This adversarial aspect of the situation is one of the reasons you should have a lawyer. Another is that, as mentioned above, a lawyer will know the process and how to negotiate it, which you do not.

Personal experience: after I was injured due to somebody else's carelessness, my health insurance placed a medical lien on my account, as is standard practice. My lawyer got them to knock $1000 off it just by asking. Would I have even known that was possible? No, I would not. But he dealt with this kind of thing all day every day, so he knew what to ask for.
posted by Lexica at 10:59 AM on January 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

An update: There is only a little pain and bruising now at the point of impact above my temple. However, I am noticing a slight dizziness, especially when I turn or move my head, and this definitely wasn't the case before the accident.

I spoke with a Personal Injury lawyer earller today, and he briefly informed me that in order to sue based on the dizziness, I would need documentation from my doctor that I did not experience dizziness prior to the accident. I do not, however, have a family doctor (have never needed one...) and so would not be able to provide such documentation. The lawyer then curtly informed that he was not the lawyer for me.

Anyone have any suggestions as to how I might best proceed here?
posted by tenderly at 10:39 PM on January 27, 2014

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