Legal Question in Personal Injury in New Mexico

Not My Medical Bill!

I was shopping in a Lowes Hardware store when I was injured from something falling from the shelf and cutting me on the face. I reported the incident to a manager who made a claim. Afterwards I payed a visit to the hospital to see if stitches were required. No stitches, but after 8 hours of waiting around and a $496 bill, I was upset. Lowes HR office claims that they will ''take care of it.'' It's 6 months later, and I just paid the medical bill with my own $ because Lowes never ''took care'' of my bill and the bill collectors started calling. I leave Lowes HR messages every week and they are not calling me back and when I call to demand assistance, they either hang-up or tell me that my adjuster is not available. I'm tired of Lowes beating around the bush. Where do I go now? I now have a scar on my face, a $496 bill, and a hate for Lowes.

Can I take this to court? What are my legal options?


Asked on 4/12/05, 4:05 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Brent Bailey Dixon, Scholl & Bailey, P.A.

Re: Not My Medical Bill!

The situation that you describe may provide two separate legal claims against Lowes. The first claim is a premises liability claim for not adequately securing the item which fell and caused your injury. In recent years many so-called "big box" retailers have faced liability claims which arise from the combination of their warehouse and retail shopping space. The idea behind these cases is that if a retailer is going to let shoppers have free run of its warehouse space the retailer needs to take extra steps to keep its storage space as safe as its retail shopping space. The second claim is predicated on Lowes promise to take care of your medical expenses. There is a New Mexico case which is almost identical to yours called Romero v. Mervyn's. In that case the Mervyn's managers promised to pay medical bills and then reneged on that promise at a later date. Our courts have held that breaking a promise to pay medical bills creates a second claim or legal cause of action against the store.

If you would like to discuss this matter in more detail, please contact me at 505.244.3890.

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Answered on 4/12/05, 4:21 pm
Charles Aspinwall Charles S. Aspinwall, J.D., LLC

Re: Not My Medical Bill!

It sounds as if they won't pay attention to you until you do something formal, like file a suit in small claims court. If you live in Albuquerque, you may file in the small claims division of the Metropolitan Court. You do not need a lawyer. If you live outside of Albuquerque, you may file a small claims suit in the Magistrate Court of the county in which you reside. Again, no lawyer is required. Court personnel will provide you with all necessary forms, but they cannot give legal advice.

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Answered on 4/12/05, 5:17 pm

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