I thought I’d write about the one time I actually was injured in a Kroger due to their negligence.
What do you think the outcome should have been?
Yes, I was barefoot at the time. But no, it was not my foot that was injured.
I was reaching for a product kind of behind and underneath a coupon dispenser. You know, scattered among the shelves they have these little devices that instantly will dispense a coupon for some special product of the day.
Here’s an image that’s fairly similar to the one I was reaching around.
Somehow, when I reached under it, it sliced my finger. Not super bad, but definitely worse than a paper cut. Blood was flowing, but not gushing.
So, now let’s do an economic and logical analysis of whether to sue Kroger for my injury.
First, the bleeding wasn’t all that much. I applied pressure on it for a bit and it stopped. I finished my shopping and put a bandage on it when I got home (being careful along the way not to reopen the cut). It probably took about two weeks to heal up, and I probably went through maybe 3 or 4 more bandages.
What else? Pain and suffering? Please! It was a cut. Was there some pain? Sure, but not all that much. Suffering? Seriously? At most it was a slight annoyance having the bandage there, and being careful not to bend the finger too much.
So what would I sue for? What would be my damages? 50¢ for the bandages? Another 50¢ for the pain and suffereing?
I’m sure I could get a lawyer to take the case—NOT. No lawyer would take the case on contingency, and I’d have to be a real idiot to spend my own money to try to recover $1.00 in damages.
So, I ignored it. That’s life.
I notice that these days, Kroger no longer uses that style of coupon dispenser. Here’s a photo of what they do use, taken just yesterday.
Maybe they got complaints (I didn’t even bother doing that). Maybe they just replaced them with newer ones with better technology. Whatever.
But now let’s apply those same principles to a barefoot injury happening in a store. (Note: I have never injured a bare foot in any sort of business or store.) I’ve had store managers say I could step on a tack (where?!). Or glass (where?!).
Well, suppose I did (even though, as I’ve pointed out before, it is really pretty hard to cut one’s foot on glass).
Or here’s an even better one from Ken Bob Saxton:
What would be my damages recoverable in a lawsuit?
OK, it might be a bit more than 50¢ for bandages (they just don’t stick that well on a foot). But pain-and-suffering? No different.
The analysis on whether to sue would still be the same: you’d have to be an idiot. Sure, there are some people (and lawsuits) that are pursued by idiots, but I really doubt that that proportion is higher in barefooters. For an unworthy type of injury, a store is much more likely to be sued by some other kind of idiot who’ll find some other way to get injured.
Besides, barefooters face enough trouble as it is going barefoot in businesses. They are quite aware that such an injury lawsuit would make it incredibly harder for them to continue to go barefoot where they want to. So that would really hold them back from suing (and maybe even for a freak instance where there really was substantial injury).
I have hurt my feet before. It’s usually while bushwhacking through rough territory and stepping on a small branch with a sharp broken-off piece sticking out. That tears up a flap of skin making a pencil-eraser-sized hole of raw skin. It’s uncomfortable, but again heals up just fine in a week or two.
I don’t see how any business injury would really be worse than that (absent some sort of freak occurrence independent of whether is barefoot or not). And again, any sort of reasonable analysis would preclude a lawsuit.
My entire point here is (like I’ve had to do before) that a fear of lawsuits from barefooted customers is entirely unreasonable. It would sure be nice if we could get businesses to understand that and not give us trouble.