(The following is an excerpt from a recent case Aronfeld Trial Lawyers was involved in.)
Dear Fort Lauderdale Accident Attorney,
I was shopping with my two kids for their back to school stuff when I slipped on some newspaper coupons in the aisle where they sell paper and crayons [sic]. I did not want to make a big deal about it, but a Target store worker saw it happened and insisted that I give them my information. Her manager even came over and took my picture and got my name and number.
I finished shopping and went home. The next day at work, I got a call from a Target risk manager who asked if she could interview me about the fall and record the conversation over the phone. I told her I needed to ask my husband and call her back. My husband told me to contact a lawyer before doing anything. So, I know you are a lawyer who handles accidents in Target stores, what should I do?
Mrs. [Name deleted]
Pembroke Pines, Florida
Dear Mrs. [Name deleted],
Thank you very much for your confidence in seeking our help with your potential case. We spoke this morning, and you agreed that I could share our conversation with the readers of the Florida Injury Lawyer Blog–provided we did not disclose your name.
First: What Are Your Injuries?
First and foremost, the most important issue to determine is whether or not you are hurt. You did not mention that in your email, but when we chatted on the phone, you said that your back hurt a little. You were not sure if it was a new injury or an aggravation of when you hurt your back in a car accident a few years ago. Either way, I recommended that you go to the doctor who treated you back then for your car accident case, see your primary care doctor, or we would be happy to send you to see a good orthopedic surgeon in Broward who would examine you.
Second: Don’t Give a Statement to the Adjuster
In the meantime, after discussing this with you and your husband, I advised that you should not discuss this case with the Target risk manager, which is a fancy way of saying insurance adjuster, until we have had a chance to get you fully diagnosed by a qualified and trusted physician.
These recorded statements can and will be used against you if the case is not settled. They can be played back to a jury, and any inconsistencies will be used against you to show that you are not a reliable witness. One needs to be prepared and represented by a lawyer whenever a statement is given. I assure you, if I wanted to speak to and make a recording of a conversation with the Target employee and store manager to use against Target at a trial, they would never allow it to be done without both a lawyer present and under a court ordered subpoena; therefore, neither should you.
GET THE SURVEILLANCE TAPE OF THE FALL
In the meantime, you and your husband retained our Broward County personal injury law firm, and we sent a letter to Target advising them that we are your lawyers and not to destroy the surveillance videotape of your incident. We want the tape for several reasons, but primarily to prove that you did in fact fall at Target and to show how long the newspaper coupons were on the floor before you slipped on them. This fact is equally important because we must prove that Target was actually negligent or responsible for your injury.
Many people falsely believe simply because they are injured in a store like Target, Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods, Winn Dixie, T. J. Maxx, Best Buy, or Publix, they are automatically entitled to receive money for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. This is simply not true under Florida law. Instead, one must prove that the fall was due to the carelessness of the business owner for failing to reasonably maintain, inspect, or clean their stores. We have found that the video surveillance footage can often make or break cases like yours. To see a copy of the type of letter we sent on your behalf.
MRIs Don’t Lie
Since you don’t recall the name of the doctor who saw you for your car accident and told me that you don’t have insurance, we sent you to see a Board Certified orthopedic surgeon in Fort Lauderdale. He sent you for an MRI and, having compared your previous MRI to this one, found that you had an additional level of bulging in the disc in your lumbar spine.
MRIs are the gold standard of diagnostic tools. Unlike an X-Ray, an MRI will show us three-
dimensional imagery of your discs, ligaments, and other anatomy that will help a doctor properly treat you as well as provide our attorneys ammunition to prove objectively what your injuries are from your fall. Because they are expensive, most emergency rooms do not routinely provide these to patients.
WHY YOU NEEDED A LAWYER–SETTLING A CASE AGAINST TARGET
With this information, we were able to assist you in evaluating your claim. Without disclosing to our readers the amount of the settlement, you agreed that I could share the following details as to why you needed a lawyer to help you with your claim against Target:
- Got a proper diagnosis and treatment by a qualified physician.
- Obtained a copy of the surveillance video before it was destroyed or “lost.”
- Prevented you from giving a recorded statement that could and would have been used against you if the case against Target went to a jury trial.
- Included in your settlement compensation for your husband as Florida law recognizes a claim for the legal spouse of anyone hurt in a personal injury claim.
- Negotiated a reasonable settlement which was several times more than you had valued the case at before you hired a lawyer.
- Negotiated your outstanding medical bills to maximize your recovery.
Now, not all accident cases against stores like Target or Costco require lawyers; they do, in my opinion, require a lawyer to advise when and if you need a lawyer. Situations where there are no injuries, damages, or losses do not require lawyers, in my opinion. However, my answer to your initial question is an unqualified “yes.” You always need a lawyer to assist you in any kind of personal injury case in Florida–if only to tell you that you don’t need a lawyer. It is no different than going to an emergency room for a doctor to x-ray you to tell you if you have a broken bone. The attorney is like the x-ray; he or she will see things that are not visible to the naked eye.
I appreciate having had the opportunity to be of service to you and your family and wish you the very best.
Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer
FREE CONSULTATION FOR TARGET ACCIDENT CASES
If you or a family member has been injured in an accident at a Florida retailer like Target, Costco, Winn Dixie, Best Buy, or T. J. Maxx, we offer free initial legal consultations 24 hours a day. Simply call our Miami lawyers at 305-441-0440 or Toll Free at 866-597-4529, or email us.
We take cases across the State of Florida including in Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Naples, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami, Homestead, and throughout the Florida Keys. Call us today–before you speak to a “risk manager” or claims adjuster.