Last year, my wife was injured at a nationwide retail store. The injury was completely the store’s fault – they didn’t secure a shelf and when my wife removed an item from it, the entire shelf collapsed on her. Her saving grace was that she was able to turn around and cover her head, but the entire contents of the shelf (and the shelf itself) all fell on her back. As a result, her entire back was cut and bruised, and she was sore for months!
Now, here we are six months later, and we still haven’t received anything from the company, except for more questions…even after they admitted being negligent in writing to us!
Filing the Claim
First off, when my wife was injured, nobody really came to help her. An employee heard the noise from everything falling, and just walked over and asked if she was alright. She said she was in pain (her back was even bleeding through her shirt from being cut by a metal shelf), and the employee said she would get a manager. However, after waiting for several minutes and nobody coming to help her, she decided to try and walk out on her own power. She got to her car (she was in the back of the store and made her way all the way out without anyone coming to help), and then just decided to drive home.
As soon as she got home, she told me what happened and showed me her injuries. She was not bleeding by the time she got home, but definitely was cut and bruised all over her back. I immediately called the store and asked to speak to the manager. The manager was very nice, said he knew what happened, and asked us to come in and file a report. I agreed, but said we would come in the next day because she was too sore to go back that day.
The next day, my wife was even more sore, but still went down to file the report. The manager was completely sorry, admitted that the store didn’t secure the shelf, told us they would take care of everything, and took down all our information.
The manager then told us to expect a call from their claims administrator.
Working with a Claims Administration Company
About two days later, a claims administrator called my wife and wanted to discuss what happened. She was very nice, and told us over the phone that the company admitted they were negligent and that she just wanted to wrap everything up quickly. She offered us a $25 giftcard to the company as a token of their apologies for what happened, and asked if we would sign a disclosure admitting no further claims would be pursued.
I told my wife no – it’s too soon to tell if no further claims will be required, and we would like to get her back checked out by a doctor. She had hundreds of pounds of merchandise and fixtures fall on her, and that wouldn’t be sufficient.
That’s when things got difficult…the claims administrator’s demeanor clearly changed on the phone and she was gearing up for a fight. She said we could go to the doctor, but they would like a copy of the medical records. We agreed. She also sent us a big packet to fill out, including our statements, and she wanted photographs of the injury – which we provided multiple photos starting the day of, and finishing with the final scars (which will probably be permanent).
We sent in all the information, and the claims administrator never called us or reached out to us again. It seemed it was now on us to pursue the claim. So, we put together a letter asking for payment to recover the cost of medical expenses paid to date, and potential coverage for future medical expenses – $1,000. That sum was very reasonable and fell rightly within the calculations that insurance companies use to value claims. We sent this in certified mail, and were hoping to receive a response. However, we never got one even though we confirmed that the letter was received.
So, we called her, only to have our calls not returned.
We emailed her, only to have her respond and tell us to call her.
It seems they no longer seem very eager to settle our claim.
Our Options Going Forward
Here’s were things get tricky. We really don’t have too many great options going forward. We could continue to try to pursue a claim through the claims administrator by sending certified demand letters and hoping for a response, but without any potential bite behind the letter, that might not work.
I’ve done a little research and their are firms that can help at no cost but it could be time consuming, and given the amount of the claim, they may not even take our case. Here’s what I found…
We could also hire our own lawyers, but that would probably cost more than the amount we are seeking. The lawyer could negotiate legal fees to cover the case, but that is a gamble.
What would you do in this situation? How would you handle this situation?