A Walmart location spreads across an average of 10,000 sq ft of space, which means there are slipping, tripping, and falling hazards. A slip and fall accident can lead to serious injuries. Fortunately, just because Walmart is one of the largest retailers doesn’t exclude them from liability in the event of an accident at one of their store locations.
Injured victims can pursue a legal claim against Walmart stores if they believe their negligence resulted in their injuries. However, Walmart lawsuits are a nightmare as it is notoriously difficult to pursue legal action against a large corporation since they have an entire legal team on their payroll.
Ehline Law is a leading California personal injury law firm that helps downtrodden victims against large corporations. Our personal injury attorneys have extensive trial experience and can help you fight your legal battles against large retailers like Walmart. If you’re injured at a Walmart in California, contact us to know your legal options.
Personal injury lawsuits are challenging to prosecute because Walmart provides its liability insurance.
Typically, in the event of a slip and fall accident, most retailers have liability insurance to cover them financially if the injured victim decides to sue them.
These companies buy their insurance policies from third-party insurers, which protects the defendant from paying from their pocket in case of a liability.
However, with Walmart, things are a bit different. The retailer is so massive that instead of relying on third-party insurance companies, they have their own insurance company handling all liability claims.
Unlike other retailers and stores, Walmart pays from its pocket in the event of a verdict or settlement. Walmart has the financial incentive to avoid paying for damages and will do anything to make your personal injury case a real burden.
Under the premises liability law, various levels of protection are offered to different types of guests. These laws differ in each state, but typically, Walmart refers to guests as “invitees.”
The premises liability law offers the highest level of protection to invitees in the event of an accident. Under the law, Walmart is responsible for taking reasonable measures to provide a safe environment for all those invited to their property.
Although it is impossible to provide 100% safety to all guests, Walmart must ensure that its stores are reasonably safe. However, there is this misconception among many that premises liability law is all-inclusive, which is not the case. Guests can not hold Walmart responsible if they act carelessly or use the Walmart premises for purposes other than those intended.
For example, if a person drinks or is under the influence of drugs, they cannot hold Walmart responsible for any damage.
You cannot hold Walmart responsible if you’re running around the isle or climbing shelves to impress your Tik Tok fans and suffer injuries. You might end up facing criminal charges or legal trouble.
There is another misconception about premises liability law, which is that the store is always responsible for any accidents if they’re at fault. However, that is not the case.
You can only hold Walmart responsible for an accident if the hazard that caused it was there long enough that the staff reasonably should have known about it.
For example, if you slip on a spill caused by another customer just a few seconds earlier, Walmart will not be liable.
A customer can hold Walmart responsible under the following conditions:
Walmart caused a dangerous situation.
Walmart was reasonably aware of the hazardous situation.
Walmart was aware of the hazardous situation at their premises but did nothing about it.
Besides the conditions mentioned above, the injured victim must also prove the four essential elements of a negligence lawsuit. These include:
Walmart had a duty of care to remove hazards.
Walmart breached its duty of care by not doing anything about the hazard.
The plaintiff suffered injuries.
Walmart’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
A slip and fall accident could lead to serious injuries, disability, and even death. Fifty-five people die daily in North America from slip and fall accidents, the second leading injury cause of death.
The resultant injuries from a slip and fall accident are extensive, and this is why Walmart’s payout settlements for such injuries are higher than other types of personal injury accidents.
Here are some examples of the kind of settlements Walmart has made over the years:
In February 2015, a woman slipped and fell at Walmart when an employee tried to stop a shoplifter. The injuries sustained to her abdomen were severe, and the injured victim had to get several surgeries. Walmart settled the case for just under $17 million.
In 2015, a 61-year-old Alabama man got his foot stuck in a produce pallet and slipped, resulting in severe injuries and disabilities. Walmart settled the case for $7.5 million.
A Florida man slipped and fell in the garden center of Walmart from the water on the floor. He sued Walmart for negligence, and the company offered him just under a million dollars to drop the case.
A Florida woman slipped on spilled body wash and hit her head on a display rack, resulting in head and neck injuries. Walmart settled the case for $1.3 million.
The amount awarded depends on many factors, especially the severity of the accident and how experienced your injury attorney is.
An attorney with extensive experience handling slip and fall cases can help assess your injuries, determine the value of your injury claims, and negotiate the maximum compensation on your behalf.
A Walmart slip and fall attorney determines the value of a claim by assessing the nature of injuries sustained and their long-term impact on the injured victim.
With the help of medical experts, attorneys can calculate the value of your slip and fall claim by considering current and future medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and any other types of losses about your case.
In any personal injury claim, the injured victim is eligible to recover actual damages from the at-fault party, including hospital stays, transportation, medical tests, prescription drugs, and more.
Those with severe injuries preventing them from going to work can also recover lost income, future medical bills, lost earning capacity, and loss of quality of life.
Another factor that impacts the value of Walmart settlements in the history of incidents at that particular store. If you can prove that Walmart was aware of the potential hazards before your slip and fall accident, the chances that your settlement value will increase are high.
An attorney can help prior research incidences, claims, and accident reports proving that others slipped and fell at that particular Walmart store.
All claims against Walmart go through their claims management company known as Claims Management Inc (CMI), which investigates and administers claims for the retailer’s insurer.
However, in reality, CMI works in the best interest of Walmart, finding ways to reduce, delay or deny claims.
After an accident, CMI representatives will approach you to submit your medical bills and pay stubs so that they can calculate your claims.
However, what they’re trying to do is build a case against you.
After viewing the documents, they may reach out to you and state any one of the following reasons to avoid liability or minimize your claims:
You did not require all the medical treatments.
You skipped work more than necessary.
Your injuries are not as bad as you claim.
You were previously injured.
Before handing over the information the CMI requires, you must speak to your attorney.
Another tactic CMI is obtaining a recorded statement from the injured victim. The CMI representatives will make it look like giving a recorded statement is part of the claims process, but don’t be fooled by their tactics.
You are under no obligation to provide any statements. Providing too much information can be detrimental as the CMI can use it against you.
CMI representatives are experts in getting information from injured victims, and they might get you to say something that could put a dent in your case.
For example, if you tell CMI that you were in a hurry before the accident occurred, they will argue that you were the one at fault as you rushed through the store.
A CMI representative may approach you to submit certain information, and you may feel relieved as you might start to believe that you’re getting compensation for your injuries. However, CMI might disappear for a while after obtaining the information from you.
This can repeat multiple times over a few months. These are intentional delay tactics the CMI uses to force injured victims into taking a low settlement offer. Often, an injured victim will take whatever CMI offers them just to end the ordeal.
The steps you take after an accident determine the outcome of your personal injury case. Here are some important steps you should follow after a slip and fall accident at Walmart.
You must keep your well-being as your priority after getting into an accident.
You may want to delay your visit to the medical center or even avoid it because you may not have suffered injuries. However, don’t take that risk. Sometimes injuries can take time to manifest, while other times, an injury that may look minor can turn serious later.
Medical expenses are a huge part of a personal injury claim. Conducting a complete medical examination after an accident to identify injuries and start medical treatment will help prove your case.
Prolonging or avoiding medical treatment will work against you, making it difficult to prove your personal injury lawsuit. It creates grounds for the defense to argue about your fall injuries, reducing your chances of securing compensation.
If you want to pursue legal action against Walmart, you must visit the hospital and get your injuries on record.
Do not leave Walmart immediately after an accident. Take your time documenting the environment by taking photographs. This visual evidence can help attorneys recreate the accident and determine fault.
If you slipped due to a puddle, take a picture of the puddle and the surrounding area. Take all types of pictures and as many as you can. Panoramic shots and close-up pictures are great pieces of evidence to strengthen your case.
Usually, a slip and fall accident happens so fast that there are no witnesses around. However, Walmart is often crowded, and there may be a chance that a witness saw you fall.
If witnesses are around, take down their names and contact information. Witnesses add a lot of weight to a personal injury case, and your attorney may decide to use their statements in your favor to support your claim.
CCTV footage of a slip and fall accident is also important, so make sure to request security footage. If you’re having trouble retrieving the security footage, an attorney can help by retrieving it on your behalf. However, ensure you request the tape early, as some security systems automatically record existing footage after a specific time.
You also need to keep track of your medical bills, so make sure to keep medical receipts in a safe place. Your medical record and a doctor’s note are essential pieces of documentation required when filing a claim. Make sure to keep all medical receipts and records in a file.
If you cannot work due to your injuries, keep a record of this, as you will want to recover lost wages when filing claims.
You also need to record your pain and suffering to recover non-economic damages. The easiest way to do that is by recording in a diary your daily events and how your injuries affect your way of life.
Walmart has gone through thousands of claims, and they know what they’re doing. If they approach you to provide any statement, you mustn’t speak to them. You are under no legal obligation to give a statement to Walmart.
If this is your first time filing a claim, you may find it rude not to respond to Walmart, but trust us, any information you give can cause more damage to the case than you think.
This is because, after an accident, there is often a lot of confusion and panic. You don’t want to say anything that may negatively affect your case. Remember, Walmart attorneys are always fishing for such statements to avoid payouts.
Walmart might ask you to sign an incident report after an accident, but make sure you don’t sign any documents without speaking to a personal injury attorney first. Walmart lets a third-party company handle legal claims, so if you receive a call from a company on behalf of Walmart inquiring about the accident, let them know that you’re not able to help them out and that they should speak to your attorney directly for any information.
If the company realizes they are liable for your accident, they will have a person from their insurance adjustment department reach out to you for a settlement.
Most of the time, the settlement offer is peanuts, and it might seem like a good offer at first, but later on, you might realize that it doesn’t even cover your damages. If you are in a position of strength, you can negotiate a better settlement offer.
Bringing an attorney with substantial trial experience can help bolster your case and increase your chances of securing maximum compensation.
Many injured victims don’t realize that they have limited time to pursue legal action against a negligent party. According to the California statute of limitations, an injured victim must file a lawsuit against the negligent party for two years following an accident.
If you’ve lost someone due to a slip and fall accident in Walmart, the time to file a wrongful death lawsuit starts after the date of death rather than the date of injury, if they’re different. Failure to file within the 2-year timeframe will result in you losing the right to pursue legal action.
Before pursuing a lawsuit, make sure to learn about your state’s statute of limitations.
Filing a slip and fall claim against Walmart is similar to any other personal injury claim. But winning a Walmart lawsuit to seek compensation for personal injury cases is no walk in the park. Making an insurance claim because Walmart failed to do or not do something is among the hardest to win in the personal injury system.
Since Walmart is a large corporation with a legal team and its own insurance company, they’re going to scrutinize your claim and defend themselves. You need legal representation that is much more than competent. You need an aggressive and experienced attorney who is not afraid to stand up to Walmart.
Many attorneys might be willing to take your Walmart slip and fall cases, but few have a history of successful wins against the giant retailer.
An attorney can help determine the value of your claims, gather evidence to prove that Walmart was negligent, resulting in injuries to the plaintiff, and handle Walmart directly on your behalf. However, the most significant help an attorney can offer a case is how well they negotiate a settlement for their client.
We mentioned the steps to take after getting involved in a slip and fall accident at a Walmart store to increase your chances of securing compensation. One of the most important steps after an accident is to gather evidence, as you will need to furnish it when filing claims.
If you don’t have all the pieces of evidence required for submission to Walmart’s legal team, don’t panic, as your lawyer can help you with that. Your attorney can write a letter to Walmart requesting the CCTV footage or contact the witnesses to record a statement in your favor.
Some of the evidence that can help with your case includes:
Photos and videos
Injury diagnosis (medical reports, medical tests, and doctor’s opinion)
Evidence from past legal cases
An attorney can access public records and gather evidence from past legal cases to strengthen your case. This is an essential part of a personal injury claim against a large retailer like Walmart.
In one of the earlier slip and fall cases against Walmart, an attorney used Walmart’s employee training video to prove that the doormats were slippery, resulting in the fall accident.
A great lawyer will spend hours on a particular case, researching and building a strong narrative against Walmart.
Typically, after a slip and fall accident, the injured victim reports the incident to a store manager as a way to record the incident happening. This is so that the store does not deny the accident later on. However, this is an informal step, and you must file a formal claim against Walmart’s insurance company to start the claims process.
Your attorney can help you with that after looking at the accident scene, broken bones, etc. They can file a formal claim on your behalf against Walmart’s insurer and mention the date of the incident, the location of the Walmart store where the incident occurred, and what happened at the store.
Your attorney will provide details about the incident in the claim and how Walmart was at-fault for the injuries sustained. The claim will also mention the value of damages caused due to the accident and how much you’re claiming from the retailer.
When you file an initial claim, Walmart can either make an offer, usually much lower than what you deserve, or simply reject your claim and deny liability. If you’re filing a claim without an attorney, the chances that your claim gets denied immediately are considerably high. Whatever the response is, your attorney will do whatever they can to force Walmart into negotiations. Find out more with a free legal consultation, even if you’re a Walmart employee with fall claims of your own.
There is no way to tell the amount of time it takes Walmart to settle claims. These can vary from case to case. It can take a couple of months for a chance to settle or even longer.
Since Walmart owns the insurance company, they will use delay tactics such as requiring additional documentation. Still, if you have an aggressive attorney on your side, they can help you stay on top of your personal injury case. This is why we recommend starting the claims process as early as possible, allowing your attorney enough time to build up personal injury claims and handle Walmart’s insurance company.
Your attorney may believe they’ll be able to get more compensation if they take the case to trial, but you need to remember that, although that may be true, you will have to wait longer as a trial can take a couple of months or even more.
Once both parties agree on a settlement offer, you can expect the settlement check in six weeks or less. In most cases, the settlement check takes no more than three weeks after completing the case resolution process.
When you file a claim against Walmart, you may not always receive the amount you deserve. If Walmart refuses to pay the share you deserve, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the giant retailer. Getting a free case evaluation assures you don’t mess up your slip and fall case, etc.
Your attorney can assist you with filing a lawsuit against Walmart, notifying them, and completing the court process. In many cases, when a case heads to court, it can create a bad image for the defendant, especially if the defendant is Walmart, a household brand across America. The company may reconsider its offer to the personal injury lawyer and come up with an increased settlement to drop the case.
The legal and personal injury systems are often complex, and you don’t have a chance if you’re going alone against large retailers like Walmart.
If you are a victim of a slip and fall accident at Walmart, contact us at +(833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney to increase your chances of securing maximum compensation. Learn about forming an attorney-client relationship today.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer on the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.
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