The following is an expert answer given by Florida Premises Liability Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:
Subject: Injury from gas nozzle
Question: As I was filling up at a gas station, the hose became disconnected from the nozzle. The hose separated from the nozzle and soaked the front of me, including my eyes, face and clothing, and our car. I shut the pump off and ran into the store. The staff was little help at the store, and I used the bathroom of the opposite sex to wash my eyes and face. It was quite painful but there doesn’t appear to be any permanent damage to my eyes. Assuming my clothes and shoes can be cleaned, there was no property damage, as we washed our car as soon as possible. The pump nozzle/hose was clearly defective, and I was disappointed in the lack of an emergency eyewash station or solution. Other than that, the incident was extremely painful and stressful, and pretty much ruined my Saturday, to say the least. I was told to expect a call from management this Monday. Should I be entitled to some compensation, despite the lack of material damages?
Thanks for your time.
Answer: The answer to your question depends on the law for negligence claims in the state you are in. I specialize in Florida personal injury cases and negligence cases. Laws vary from state to state so the law in Florida may be different than your state.
The accident you have described is not one that occurs often. Your email says the hose was “clearly defective”. Assuming you can prove that, you would also need to prove that the gas station owner knew about the defective nozzle, or should have known about it. Nozzles do not usually come loose from the hose, so you at least have the argument that the owner should have known about the problem. More than likely, if the owner was checking the pumps on a regular basis, something like this would not have happened.
You may be entitled to some compensation from the gas station, but it is probably not a significant amount. In Florida, personal injury cases are evaluated based upon the degree of liability that exists against the gas station, the specific nature of the injury, the amount and type of medical care and bills that you have had, and that you may continue to require in the future, and the amount of pain and suffering you have experienced in the past, and future. Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity can also be recovered in Florida personal injury cases.
Your claim is short on “economic” damages, i.e. those that can be easily quantified such as cleaning bills, medical bills, property damage to the car. But, your claim does have some value for the pain you had to endure, and the inconvenience, stress and pain caused by the gas spill. Your best bet is to contact the management company directly and advise you are going to get an attorney to look into this if you cannot get it resolved directly with the management company. You will probably be able to get a nominal settlement offer from them.
If you don’t get anywhere directly with the management company, the best advice I can give you is to speak with an attorney that specializes in premises liability claims. The attorney can advise you what the law is in your area for an incident such as yours. You may be surprised to learn that similar incidents have occurred before at this same gas station, or at other gas stations managed by the owner.
You should contact an attorney soon. There are many steps your attorney should take now, i.e. notify the owner and/or insurance company for the station, find out what types of coverage are available, preserve evidence such as the nozzle, or any records to fix the nozzle, and obtain photographs, etc, that should all be done now.
For more information about Florida personal injury cases, contact Florida premises liability lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 or email him today.