Supermarket trolley hits customer’s car, store fails to pay
A recent windstorm in southern Colorado, which typically occurs about every two years in the state, caused damage. But the question is, who is responsible?
The winds caused a cart corral, which holds carts together as they are driven back into the store, to hit a car while a customer was shopping.
Through its insurance company, the supermarket called King Soopers, says they are not responsible, but a local lawyer says that is not always true.
On the morning of December 15, 2021, a major windstorm passed through the city of Colorado Springs. A local meteorologist recorded wind gusts of 92 mph at the Colorado Springs airport that day.
Lette de Mer says her family’s Subaru was parked at the grocery store when the cart corral exploded in their car.
“The staff was there trying to move this thing out of our car and put it aside,” Lette said. “One of the staff members took a photo.”
She says employees took photos of the damage to the back of the car.
“The tailgate was damaged,” she said. “It was hit quite hard and pieces of the tailgate were broken off.”
Lette says that at first the store seemed willing to fix the damage.
“The manager said he would check with insurance and call me back and we were never called back,” she said. “They didn’t return any of our calls and then we contacted you.”
Sedgwick, the company that handles claims on behalf of King Soopers (a Kroger brand) sent Lette and her husband a denial letter.
“I would like to apologize for the unfortunate incident you experienced while shopping,” the letter read. “After careful consideration of the facts of your incident, our investigation has revealed no negligence on the part of King Soopers and we must therefore dismiss your claim.”
The letter then told Lette that they hoped she would remain one of his “valued customers”.
We presented what happened to attorney Stephen Longo. He is not associated with any of the parties in this case, but said he would give legal advice on who might be liable when cases like this occur.
“Whenever we go shopping at a store that is open and inviting us, they are designated under Colorado law under the ‘Premise of Liability Act’ as a guest and by that standard that means that the company must protect us from known hazards or hazards they should know about upon reasonable inspection,” Longo said.
Since this December windstorm was predicted days in advance by local Colorado meteorologists, Longo said that fact could help the family if they appeal.
“If we’re talking about a cart corral that gets knocked over in a windstorm because it’s not bolted down properly, then they can still be found careless.”
Longo says one thing to consider in a case like this is whether employees should or could have known about this potential hazard through routine maintenance like sweeps or inspections and a review of company policies and practices. security.
Kristal Howard, director of media relations and corporate communications for The Kroger Company was contacted for a statement but did not immediately respond.
“I’ve been shopping there for 40 years and now they don’t want to take responsibility that their cart corral hit our car and damaged it,” Lette said. “If it had affected a person, it would have been tragic. Fortunately, no one was affected.”
We also contacted Sedgwick directly to see if they could review the denial and offer the client information on an appeal.
Lette says to date she hasn’t received anything from Sedgwick.
At first, Judy Molnar, Sedgwick’s vice president of public relations, asked for information about the client. We immediately supplied it to Sedgwick.
Further correspondence requesting information via email, telephone and SMS went unanswered from Molnar.
Tips from Stephen Longo:
Longo says insurance companies are in the business of taking premiums and not paying claims. He said it’s not necessarily uncommon for an insurance company or business to immediately deny a claim.
If this happens, he says you should consider appealing.
Some agencies, like hospitals, are transparent about how to file an appeal. Sedgwick provided no such information in its denial to the client regarding the appeal process.
Longo says you should also ask the insurance company the following questions:
- What facts did you consider before reaching your conclusion or decision?
- What information or exemption in the insurance policy do you cite regarding my refusal?
- What security protocols and procedures were in place at the time of this incident?
- What media (photos, video, statements) did you use to reach your conclusion?
If you’re still not moving forward, seeking mediation services might be the next step to consider before filing a civil lawsuit and letting the courts decide who is at fault.”
This story was originally published by Eric Ross of KOAA in Colorado Springs, Colorado.