I recently overheard a discussion about a young man who injured his foot under a fairly unusual set of circumstances. He suffered a broken foot, the fracture being just below the ankle on the outside of the foot, however it was the way in which he broke the ankle that was the focus of the conversation. Specifically, some interesting questions about who is liable and/or responsible for picking up the tab for the young man's medical expenses, which included a visit to the emergency room, to office visits with an orthopedist with at least one more scheduled, x-rays, a cast, crutches and an Aquashield water-proof cast protecter (a device used to keep casts from getting wet while showering and/or from rain).
The young man was enjoying some adult beverages with his friends at a one of the popular establishments in the college town in which he lives (he is a 21 year old senior in college, for what it's worth). When closing time rolled around, a bar employee hastily ushered everyone out of the high-ceiling second-floor establishment and onto the staircase leading to the exit. This created a crowd of people near the top of the staircase.
One of the more inebriated gentlemen towards the back of the pack stumbled, creating a domino effect of people tumbling down the stairs. The young man who sustained the broken foot was positioned toward the front of the pack when the collision occurred, and sustained the injury during the fall - possibly due in part to the weight of the other people who fell on top of him as his foot was positioned awkwardly due to the fall.
The question that was being debated was whether or not the bar should be held liable for the young man's medical expenses incurred as a direct result of the injuries he sustained in a fall that occurred under circumstances in which an unsafe number of people were herded onto a staircase by employees of the establishment. Does the fact that employees of the establishment in a sense were responsible for the crowd at the top of the stairs that prompted the fall render them liable for the medical bills for injuries to patrons hurt in the fall?
At first glance, this seems like a fairly easy question. However, there are other factors that could have contributed to the man's broken foot. For example, was the man getting sufficient amounts of calcium, vitamin d3 and magnesium through his diet and/or supplements? It has long been established that these three nutrients help to built and maintain strong, healthy bones, and that deficiencies of any and/or any combination of the three renders one more vulnerable to osteoporosis, broken bones and a host of other diseases and conditions, especially in the case of vitamin d3 (the form of the vitamin obtained through sunlight and more recently supplements). It has been shown that when people are deficient in vitamin d, the likelihood they'll be stricken with a whole host of diseases, illnesses and other health maladies skyrockets.
Can it be proven that the injury occurred in the fall? Does it have to be proven outright, or would overwhelming circumstantial evidence be sufficient to win a decision in court?
All-in-all, is the young man responsible for footing the entire bill for the more than one thousand dollars in medical expenses incurred as a result of the fall, or should the establishment at which the injury occurred pay for some or all of the man's expenses?
I welcome any and all input from those qualified to answer a question such as the one posed here.