Is a Personal Injury Lawyer necessary if accident occurs in store?

by admin on November 11, 2010

I was injured at a local store. A display type box (above shoulder height on shelf) of the new style large curved shower curtain rods fell on my head and shoulder. (It contained 5 of these curtain rods) I reported it to the store manager on duty as none of the employees I came in contact with cared to do anything about the incident, and a few days later someone called to check up on me and I told them I wanted to file a claim.

A representative for the claim called and recorded our conversation and said if I sought medical care to call back and they would send out a medical release form for me to sign. I told her that I definitely needed to seek chiropractic care as the box falling on my head and shoulder have aggravated a pre-existing condition. (I realize now that I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that fact) She went ahead and mailed out a form.

Problem is, we just moved here and I have no form of transportation or insurance. I am unable to work due to other health problems, but do not receive disability. We rely solely on my fiance’s income and whatever we need has to wait til he gets off work. I finally found a chiropractor that I could attend as I have multiple chemical sensitivities and it takes some time to find an office that has no fragrances being used, lysol etc.

I have been there at least 6 times now and am doing better, but still require adjustments 2x week currently. Almost ready for once a week visits and hopefully once a month after that.

The store representative had told me if I sought medical care to call and let her know and they would look at my records and see if they would come to a settlement. She said I could go anywhere I wanted for treatment.

Is it common for a company to have you fill out a medical release form that says they can request access to medical records other than the ones directly related to an incident? It’s been almost a month and I haven’t signed the form yet, but she called the other day and left a message asking if I’d received care and to call her. I don’t know what to do about the form?

Should I fill it out and see what kind of a settlement if any they come back with before contacting a lawyer or should I contact a lawyer before signing the form. It looks like a standard, generic accident compensation form for work or consumer. Basically, it has you check a box of what kind of claim it is and then asks your signature for release of any medical records and requires a social security number. That is the part that bothers me most, I guess. I am always leary of giving that info out. I know it is probably standard practice. The store seems to be cooperating currently and appears to just want the medical release form sent in order for them to come to a settlement….. if any.

Again, I do not work and I have no transportation. So money is very limited and time is also as my fiance’ already works 10-12hr days regularly and we find it very difficult to see the chiro 2x week. Trying to also fit in time to see a lawyer would be extremely difficult, but we would do what we need to if it is something we should do instead of filling out this form.

Is there a time limit on filling this out also?
I did not feel there was a need for an ambulance. I was not bleeding. I requested an ice pack which they gave me.

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MSAD November 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm

No, a lawyer is not required. If you decide to hire an attorney, be aware that he will get 33% plus expenses of any settlement you get. The store’s insurance company does not pay you more just because you got a lawyer. If you decide to hire an attorney it’s your choice and your responsibility to pay him. Not the stores responsibility. Not the insurance company’s. The attorney’s fee comes from your settlement. You hire him – you pay him.

An injury settlement is based on the injury. The injury is what it is. A lawyer does not change that.

My two cents- if things are going well with the insurance company, then there is no reason to hire an attorney. You can always do it later if you want to – if it gets to the point that its worth it to give 1/3 of your settlement to a guy that does not need the money as much as you do.

If the insurance company is working with you, then there is no reason to hire an attorney. It’s not something you have to do at the beginning. You can wait and see what the insurance company does then decide if its worth your time and money to hire an attorney.

As far as telling about your prior medical history goes – no harm in that. If you have treated with the chiro before, that’s going to show up in the bills/records any way. You are only owed for the injury caused by this incident – not prior problems. So there is no harm in being honest. Just speaks well of your character and gives you more credibility (at least in my opinion).

As far as the medical release -yes, that’s normal. In order get copies of the medical bills/reports from the chiro that is treating you the insurance company has to have the signed medical authorization.

The insurance company will not pay medical bills as they are received. Once you are done with treatment and have been released, then the insurance company will order copies of the bills/records. They will evaluate the records and then make you an offer.

Once they make you an offer- you can accept it or make a counter offer.

Once you and the insurance company reach an agreement on a settlement amount, the insurance company will send you a final release to sign and return. Once the release is received back then the insurance company will mail the check to you.

Jo Armstrong November 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm

go to a solicitor straight away!

Polly November 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Do not sign ANYTHING! I hope you had the store call an ambulance…and no–the local district attorney would represent you..

The store BY LAW is required to pay for your care–hospital and any convalescence you may require–at the store’s expense.

If you retain counsel be sure you tell the attorney that the fees will be paid by the store.

Snarki Tiki November 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm

If you want an insurance company to pay for your bogus medical care, you have to release your medical records to them and your social security number. Sorry, no way around that. Saying that you need months of chiropractic visits because a couple shower curtain rods fell on you is beyond ridiculous, so you can see why they’d want to see if you had any other medical conditions before they shell out any money.

Would you want to reimburse somebody thousands of dollars in medical costs for an insignificant incident that caused no injury but simply aggravated one of your multiple preexisting conditions? Probably not. You seem to think that the insurance company should though, and this is why healthcare costs in this country are out of control and our healthcare system is broken. Thanks a lot.

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