• Slip and Fall at a Restaurant

I received this question about a woman injured when she slipped and fell on a flooded bathroom floor at a local restaurant. She wanted to know how to get her medical bills paid and could she sue for damages. I thought the answer might be of interest to you.

Question:  This week I fell at the local Olive Garden. Seems their bathroom was backing up and the floor was flooded. There was no sign posted, as I walked into the bathroom, my legs splayed out from under me causing me to wrench my back, I hit my knee on the door and I sprained my wrist. I have been in bed all weekend and Monday I plan to see a doctor. The manager at the restaurant paid for my dinner with my daughter and brought me ice for my back. I could not drive home due to the pain. I plan on going to the doctor on Monday as I cannot sit or stand without severe pain. I have called the restaurant twice asking how to process my medical bills; they have failed to supply me with a claim number. Should I get an attorney and have a suit going against them? The girl working said they had problems with the middle stall in the bathroom all day and that they did not know it had flooded the floor on the next stall. Is this negligence?

Answer: I am sorry to hear about your fall and the ordeal it has created. The most important action to take is to see a doctor to receive the medical treatment you need. If you cannot see your doctor, you should consider going to the emergency room. Early diagnosis and treatment can be essential in providing you relief from your pain and enabling you to recover as fully and quickly as possible. You should see a doctor before visiting an attorney.

Once you have addressed your medical needs, then you can consider your legal options. As I understand your email, you entered the bathroom at the Olive Garden and slipped and fell on some water that had flooded in the bathroom. You hurt your back as a result of this slip and fall. You notified the manager of the incident and he demonstrated some good will by paying for your dinner. You now find yourself in pain and want to know what to do.

 It appears that you have two questions:

  • Can you require the restaurant to pay for the medical bills that result from this incident?
  • Can you seek additional compensation from the restaurant for your pain and suffering?

You can ask the restaurant to pay your medical bills. If they agree, then they should provide you with information on where to forward the bills or your receipts for bills paid. If they refuse, you will need to sue them to collect payment for the medical bills. If you only want reimbursement for your medical expenses, you may be able to go to small claims court to force restaurant to pay for your medical expenses. In New York, you can recover for up to $5,000 in Small Claims Court and you can handle that action on your own without hiring an attorney.

If you have larger medical bills or you want to seek compensation for your pain and suffering, then you will need to sue the restaurant for negligence. Based on your description of the incident, you may be entitled to compensation from the restaurant for the damages you suffered due to their negligence. That compensation could include payment for all medical expenses and payment for the pain and suffering you have and may endure due to this fall.

I will explain more about what you can do to help your case and what you must prove to win a case. I recommend that you consult a local personal injury attorney with experience handling slip and fall cases. If you live in the New York metropolitan area, I would be glad to assist you (you can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email me at carol@schlittlaw.com). If you live elsewhere, you can contact your local bar association for a referral or contact me and I can help you find an attorney.

The consultation with an attorney should be free. An attorney can help assess your case and advise you on the best way to proceed. Your attorney can also handle all communications with the Olive Garden for you. I would speak to a lawyer before speaking to anyone from the Olive Garden again. A lawyer would know how best to protect your interest.

What Can You Do in a Slip and Fall Case?

You can help your case by gathering as much information about the incident and accident scene as soon as possible. These steps include:

  • Write down the exact address and location of the Olive Garden where this incident happened.
  • Write down the names of any witnesses. If store employees came to help you and you do not know their names, write down a description of what they looked like. Write down what they did and said. For example, perhaps the manager came to help you get up while another employee put up signs at that floor was wet. If you knew anyone else in the Olive Garden at the time, it would be helpful to have their names even if they did not see you fall.
  • Did you take any pictures of the accident scene? If not, can you go back and take pictures of exactly where you fell? Remember, your phone might have a camera.
  • Write down any notes about the incident. What happened right before you slipped and fell? Describe how the accident happened.
  • If you have the receipt from the dinner or any other paperwork such as the manager’s business card, save that material.

In cases like this, I like to visit the scene of the incident with my client to make sure that I understand exactly how the incident occurred and to prepare the best possible prosecution of the case. 

Proving a Slip and Fall Case against the Restaurant

From the information you shared in your email, it sounds as if you have may have a case against the local Olive Garden for causing your fall and injuries.

To bring and win a slip and fall lawsuit, you generally need to meet two criteria. I practice personal injury law in New York, so I will discuss what New York requires:

  • You need to prove that the Olive Garden caused or should have removed a dangerous condition and that dangerous condition caused your slip and fall.
  • You need to prove that you suffered damages because of their negligence.

In this case, the Olive Garden may have created the dangerous situation – the wet floor – and acted negligently by failing to warn customers of the dangerous condition. It sounds as if they knew they had a problem with a toilet flooding, yet they did not cure that problem. The staff knew about the potential flooding and took no action to warn patrons of the hazardous condition. One would need to investigate further before drawing any absolute conclusions.

From your description, you now have a painful back and are yet to see a doctor about your condition. The amount of compensation you can seek will be directly related to the extent of your injuries, the recovery period and activity you must undertake and the limitations the injury causes you. Right now, you need to receive a diagnosis and receive the necessary medical care before we could determine the value of the damages you have suffered. It is very important that you see a doctor as soon as possible and follow up on the recommended care.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me directly. You can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email me at carol@schlittlaw.com.

I wish you well and hope you have a complete and rapid recovery.

Carol L. Schlitt
New York Personal Injury Attorney
www.SchlittLaw.com
http://nylawthoughts.com
1-800-660-1466
Carol@SchlittLaw.com

This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney.

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