Walmart Slip and Fall Accidents
Walmart is one of the largest retailers in the United States, with over 4,700 stores in the United States. Tens of millions of people walk through Walmart on any given week, so it is unsurprising that many people might fall and get hurt. Unfortunately, trying to get compensation out of Walmart can be difficult even if you have suffered horrifying or permanent injuries. This company did not come to dominate the market by making generous settlements with those injured inside the store.
Below, we highlight what you need to know about getting compensation for a Walmart slip and fall. If you have a question, contact Fisher & Talwar today to discuss your case with an experienced Walmart slip and fall accident lawyer.
Woman Sues Walmart After Slipping and Falling
A woman is suing Wal-Mart for injuries she alleges were sustained on store property following a June, 2012 slip-and-fall accident. The woman filed suit against Walmart Stores, Inc on April 1st, 2013 and is seeking over $50,000 for medical expenses, lost earnings, and court costs. According to the woman, she slipped and fell on an unknown liquid that was left on the floor adjacent to the jewelry department, and claims that the fall injured her back, leg, and hand.
Before Filing Suit
Sometimes, a slip-and-fall accident may appear plain and simple, which could lead some injury victims to try to recover damages on their own by initiating a slip and fall complaint without help of an attorney. While this right exists, it is not one that experts generally recommend is exercised, as non-attorneys usually have a much harder time recovering everything that they may be entitled to under the law. For this reason, allowing an attorney to review the facts of a case and the injuries / detriment sustained is a good idea because it will give the victim a more accurate idea of the value of his or her case.
As in the story mentioned above, it can take several months before a personal injury case makes it to court, if the case goes to court at all. The time between an accident and trial or slip and fall settlement is generally spent gathering facts and information that a victim’s attorney can use to craft a legal argument or compel the other side to settle the matter out of court. By working with an attorney, the victim can be sure that this time is spent productively, as most average citizens have no idea of where to even begin a fact finding investigation in furtherance of civil litigation. It is also important to note that once the injured collects slip and fall compensation settlement, no further action can be taken against any other potentially liable party.
How and Why Cases Settle
The law gives victims of accidents that are caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct of another the right to seek monetary compensation for their injuries, both physical and economic, from the responsible party. Generally, when the facts of a case seem clear, it can be less expensive for the offending person or entity to settle the case out of court. If the two parties can’t agree on an amount for damages, the victim or offending party is free to refuse to settle and force a case to court where a judge or jury can decide the outcome.
At the root of it all, the decision to settle is generally financial, although some big businesses will do it in order to avoid bad press which, in reality, is also a financial decision.
The legal doctrine of Respondeat Superior, which is Latin for “let the master answer”, allows employers to answer for, and be liable for, the negligent, reckless, and sometimes intentional conduct of employees. This means, in a case like a slip-and-fall accident, the victim need not pursue compensation for damages from the individual employee or employees responsible for creating or allowing the hazard, and instead need only bring charges against the rightful employer of those individuals in order to recover.
Walmart Slip and Fall FAQs
What Causes Slip and Fall Accidents in Walmart?
Customers can slip and fall for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Liquid on the floor, which might have been spilled. With many Walmarts now selling groceries, the risk of spilled liquids has increased.
- Trash or other debris which could fall off shelves or spill out of overflowing trash cans.
- Freshly mopped or waxed floors.
- Loose tiles or worn carpeting.
- Ice or other condensation in the parking lot, which Walmart is usually also responsible for.
Regardless of how you fell, you might have a claim for compensation if Walmart did not use sufficient care to keep their property safe. When they invite customers into the store, Walmart must ensure that the property is safe for them to enter. Any failure to exercise reasonable care could put the company on the hook for compensation.
What Should You Do after a Fall in Walmart?
A key consideration is documenting whatever it is that made you slip. Was there a pool of water on the floor? Try to get at least one picture of it. Use your smartphone or someone else’s smartphone, but definitely try to get a picture. The last thing you want is for Walmart to try and claim that you tripped over your own feet.
You should also identify any witnesses who saw you fall. Get their names and contact information. Their witness statements could prove critical in a claim. They can identify the hazard that caused you to slip and fall, even where you don’t have a picture.
Also receive medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible. If you delay, then Walmart might claim you are partially to blame for the pain and inconvenience you feel. Instead, get to a doctor or the hospital to be checked out, and always follow your doctor’s proposed course of treatment.
How Do You Make a Claim with Walmart?
This is difficult. Walmart works with a company, Claims Management Inc. (CMI), whose job it is to handle claims involving those injured at the store. CMI will aggressively fight any claim, regardless of the severity of your injuries or how obvious you think it is that Walmart is to blame. CMI has proven its worth to Walmart by getting many victims to settle claims for a fraction of what the victim could legitimately receive.
CMI representatives use many aggressive insurance tactics to fight claims. For example, a CMI representative might contact you and ask to take a recorded statement about what happened. This is the last thing you should do! As an injured victim, you are not required to give a recorded statement to anyone, least of all to someone working for Walmart. In the future, Walmart might depose you and ask you questions under oath, but that is with an attorney present who can clarify any confusion and make sure that CMI does not misrepresent what you are saying.
A CMI representative also might pressure you to settle your claim quickly, often by making an offer to cover your medical bills. However, you are entitled to much more than medical bills in a slip and fall settlement, and you should not sign any settlement agreement until you meet with a lawyer.
How Can a Lawyer Help My Slip and Fall Case?
Injured victims who try to go toe-to-toe with Walmart are often swamped and end up with very little money. There are several reasons for this, but most have to do with the victim not fully understanding her rights or even how much compensation she is entitled to.
Our job at Fisher & Talwar is to advocate for our clients. No one else will do that for you. Not even an insurance claims adjuster who says they have your best interest at heart. The only person who has an ethical obligation to you is the attorney you hire.
We can look at your injuries and add up the amount the slip and fall has cost you. Things like medical bills, rehabilitation, and lost wages should not be your responsibility. If Walmart is to blame for the accident, then they should pay compensation. They are a company worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and they can afford to shoulder the financial fallout from the accident.
You also deserve compensation for physical pain, suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, embarrassment, and other intangible losses. California law allows you to receive money for them as well, and you should not agree to an amount that is too small. Many clients have no idea how much they are entitled to for these intangible harms, but we do.
Our lawyers will also negotiate a settlement aggressively and, if necessary, head into court to file a lawsuit. It is too easy for someone without a lawyer to settle a claim for very little money.
The Impact of Expert’s Opinion on Your Trip-and-Fall Case
It is not uncommon for injury attorneys to lose their client’s trip and fall case because they failed to retain a premises liability expert or used the individual’s expertise for the wrong reasons. It may seem easy to draw conclusions in a case that follows a series of others before it based on inadequate premises maintenance.
However, tying the injury to the cause may not be so simple, especially if the expert witness hasn’t had a chance to examine the premises early on. We’ve already discussed the number one reason most slip and fall cases are unsuccessful – lack of preparation (such as having an expert on the scene right away), however, let’s further entertain this hypothetical scenario:
Trip and Fall Scenario
Mr. Jones is a tenant in a poorly maintained apartment complex. There is no doubt about the fact that the building is hazardous based on the 2 previous injuries reported. At one point, one of the tenants fell down the stairs because the light above the stairway was out at night even though several complaints have been made to replace the bulb.
Another tenant fell on the rain-drenched stairs because the hallway window was broken for weeks and the rain was blown into the stairwell. One particularly sunny afternoon Mr. Jones is walking down the stairs while holding on to the railing when the railing detaches from the wall. He trips and tumbles down the stairs and suffers a head injury.
Mr. Jones and his attorney may think this is a clear-cut case of terrible maintenance of the premises but may be surprised when they lose. Without quick dispatch of a premises liability expert to the scene of the accident, there may be no connection made between the cause of the fall and the injury since the previous factors of darkness and wet surface have nothing to do with sustained injury.
Why Experts are Important to Your Case
A practiced trip and fall attorney will send an expert to the premises right away to have everything examined. The expert will assess the conditions of the premises, including the condition of the railing. He may look at the fasteners to determine the proper size and strength, as well as examine the wall to which the railing was attached. By having an expert on the scene early, injury attorneys are able to consult him to pinpoint the actual cause of the fall.
Simply relying on previously reported injuries as the basis of fact could lead to the case’s demise. A more likely scenario is where the victim, in our case Mr. Jones, waits too long to contact an attorney. The landlord realizes he may be in a lot of trouble and quickly fixes the defects. By now, Mr. Jones hires an attorney, and an expert is sent to investigate the scene but is unable to find any defect in the railing.
There is no evidence to indicate that the fasteners were too small for the size of the rail. Mr. Jones’ attorney knows that trying to base the case on-premises of poor maintenance history will likely be unsuccessful.
Does your future attorney place high importance on expert testimony? Ask us about how we may be able to help you with your case.
Reach Out to Us Today
Were you injured in a slip and fall inside a Walmart store or parking lot? If so, you need to call one of our slip and fall lawyers to schedule a free consultation. Fisher & Talwar has decades of combined experience helping people just like you who have been injured only to face the challenge of trying to get a giant company to make you whole.
It might feel like climbing a mountain. Let us help. You can schedule your meeting by calling or sending us an online message.