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Marc, Attorney at Law
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 332
Experience:  Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
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This will be a slip and fall issue. I was leaving work

Customer Question

This will be a slip and fall issue. I was leaving work during the last ice storm of 2016 (approx. February or March). Both feet came out from under me and I landed on the ice on my shoulder blades and banged my head as well. Austin Ham and Vanessa Nejera were ahead of me and came back to help me. Once I could breath again, I asked Austin to bring my car closer, he did not understand the question, so they helped me up and I made it to my car. I did not think I hurt myself, at least not seriously. I was sore for a few days but expected that.
After a couple of days I forgot all about falling and did not connect it to the fall on the ice. My employer, The Home depot, has denied my claim, since I did not make a report within a certain time limit. But the fact is I would not have been there that day at all if they would have allowed me to remain home. When I called to ask if we would be penalized if we did not drive in the ice, I was informed that if you did not have personal time you were required to arrive at work as near my scheduled time as possible.
I have seen 2 Chiropractors because they helped me in 2010 when I damaged my lower back. (HQ Chiropractic, and Tall City Chiropractic) I have also been to the clinic that I use for my regular health care and seen Nola Damon. I have been feeling like I was losing my mind for several months now, therefore I feel like there is some neurologic symptoms, due to this accident. I realize that the time line is not ideal but I have worked at this store for 17 years and they have requested a written statement from me. I need some advise before I go any further with them. I have not filed any short or long term disability because I wanted to know exactly what was wrong with me first. I did pay $1100 for an MRI because my regular health insurance would not cover this mandatory test for a back injury. The same thing happened to me when I injured my lower back in 2010. Dr. Mahaffey at The Back Pain Institute has indicated that the issues are caused by the trama of this fall. As well as the issue with the lower back from 2010. He is board certified in trama to the spine by the state of Texas, but he is not a neurologist. He will refer me to a neuro-surgon as that is the conventional next step for shots in my spine and possibly surgery. He does have a treatment that has proven effective for my condition but my regular health insurance will not pay for what they call an alternative care method. I do not feel comfortable with surgery on my back and want the care that does not involve any cutting. Please let me know what you think as soon as possible. Thank You Dixie Staats-Bostic
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  Marc replied 9 months ago.

Hello Dixie. My name is Marc. I'm a licensed attorney and I will be happy to assist you today.

First of all, I'm sorry this happened to you and I wish you a speedy and full recovery. Home Depot seems to have had no basis for denying your claim simply because you didn't report the accident right away. After a fall like this, most people like you, me and others may feel some pain, a bit stunned, very annoyed and a little embarrassed maybe. But we get up, try to shake it off and go on with our lives. It is not uncommon, however, for symptoms of injury to manifest themselves at a later time. And in your case - "a few days" later is quite reasonable.

HD's policy of requiring you to report the accident sooner is not only unfair to you, it is counter productive. After all, does HD want its employees to immediately file reports after ever fall, bump or knock even if the employee doesn't feel injured? In sum, HD's policy is unreasonable and your claim should not be barred simply because you waited a few days before reporting the accident.

The more salient point here is this: Based upon what you've told me, you (1) fell on ice (2) in the HD parking lot (3) while on your way home from work, and (4) you sustained injury as a result.

At the very least, you have the same rights as a customer who slips on ice in the HD lot. HD owes a duty to customers and employees to keep its parking lot and store free from hazardous conditions (which includes snow and ice accumulation). In your case, you have a cause of action for premises liability against HD because it failed in its duty to keep the lot free of ice. Furthermore, you were injured as a result.

Now, you are an employee and this accident happened while you were on the job (going to your car after work is still considered to be on the job in this case). Thus, you are entitled to workers' comp and/or other disability benefits provided through your employment. In other words, this was a work-related accident. Moreover, it was caused by HD's negligence.

It is not for HD to determine whether you were injured or whether your injuries are related to this accident. It sounds like you have ample, quality evidence from your doctors that establish that your injuries are causally related to this accident. Thus, they have no basis to deny your claim on grounds that your injuries are unrelated to your work. And your pre-existing conditions also do not preclude relief since this accident clearly exacerbated any previous injuries. Also - you have two witnesses and, probably, a recording from a surveillance camera to establish that the accident occurred and its causal relation to your injury.

Ultimately, you should probably hire a local workers compensation or other attorney who specializes in work-related accidents or premises liability. You might try reasoning with HD yourself, asserting the points and arguments I mention above. I always thought HD was a good employer, but maybe I'm wrong. Under the circumstances, HD should not deny your claim.

Accordingly, my suggestion is to (1) contact the HD benefits department and try to reason with them as described above, and (2) if HD still denies your claim, contact an attorney who can advocate for you and get you workers comp, other disability payments, or civil damages for your injury and lost wages.

I hope I have provided you with useful information that helps you better understand your issues and options. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Otherwise, please feel free to rate my answer, as that is the only way I can receive credit.

Feel better soon!

Marc Sherman