How to Finesse a Manager's Report
If you've been injured in a grocery store, it is best if - before the store
manager arrives - you have a chance to talk to a stock person. You can learn
whether he or others have walked through the aisle where you slipped and fell
within the last 10 or 15 minutes. Do they have any periodic patrol of public
areas of the store? Maybe he would admit that he saw the spill and was going to
clean it up as soon as he could, but things became "busy up front."
Those types of admissions are very important to get down and they are often
available if you let the other person talk. Silence is something that we seek to
avoid. The other person will fill the silence if you let him. Just be quiet and
listen. You can ask a few questions and let him ramble. Should you confront the
store manager with the stock person's statements? Yes, it's a good idea to ask
him to include those statements as part of his manager's report. Tell the
manager that you learned that checkers or stock personnel had walked through the
aisle 10 minutes before the accident, and that the stock person said he saw the
hazard but didn't have time to clean it just then, or that their store has no
regular inspection or tour for hazards (this is a key question to ask the stock
person), or that they had had other incidences of people slipping from
over-spray from the vegetable counter, or that there had been numerous previous
instances where vegetable matter was on the floor around the self-service salad
island. Any of those types of admissions could come from and be attributed to
the stock person. Get his name if you can, and make sure those admissions are
included in the manager's report.
Make the manager acknowledge to you the same thing or defect that you notice.
Ask him to please note that fact in his report. In other words, if other areas
of the floor are wet from the vegetable over-spray, or if the cart tracks
through the spilled catsup go far and wide, or if the display lights attract
one's attention so as to induce a misstep, or whatever other defect caused you
to fall - or any other evidence you have noticed since the accident - make him
acknowledge it and ask him to put it in his report. If you don't do this at
the first opportunity, that evidence will cease to exist. It will be a case
of your word against his word. If you do it at this time, the manager has to
include it in his report. You need to insist that he place it in his report.
Watch him document it in his report to be sure it is included.
If a stock person told you something beneficial for your case, ask the manager
to listen to the same information from the stock person. Ask him to get the
stock person and hear it in front of you. You need to get that information at
this time because it is beneficial to establishing liability in your case.
If you do not write it down and have the manager include it in his report, not
only will the store manager deny it but also the claims adjuster will not give
any credence to a statement that you make for the first time at settlement
demand time, when you say that "some employee, name unknown, told me that there
is no inspection procedure."
If the manager refuses to cooperate, to acknowledge what is there to be seen, be
sure to get his name and address. Write him a letter as soon as you can, keeping
a copy for your records. Recite the facts you wanted in his report, and remind
him that he did in fact see the same thing, but that he refused to acknowledge
it in his report. Use the Manager's Report Letter
as a guideline.