What Happens If You Slip and Fall at Walmart?
Updated September 24, 2021
There are plenty of Walmart Stores in the Metro East area. In fact, there are three within 10 miles of our offices on West Main Street in Belleville. From the Supercenter in Green Mount Commons to the ones in O’Fallon and Cahokia, these massive retailers are popular because they seem to have everything. With so many people passing through their doors every day, it is inevitable that someone will slip and fall.
Let’s say someone slips, trips, and falls while getting their weekly grocery shopping done. The injury might be relatively minor like a sprained wrist, or a cut that needs a few stitches. Or it could be as serious as a broken hip. Either way, the person is probably wondering what they should do and what comes next. Is Walmart liable for your injury? Is the injured person eligible for compensation?
A slip and fall can cause a serious injury in a matter of seconds. When the incident happens because of the carelessness of a large corporation, things get complicated. Large corporations have the resources to fight a claim, but that does not mean someone in a slip and fall at Walmart does not deserve to receive full and fair compensation for their injuries. Hipskind & McAninch are experienced personal injury attorneys who can help work through the details.
Who Is Liable?
As with most personal injury cases, liability, or legal responsibility for paying the bills, is determined by a number of factors specific to the situation that caused the injury. Because the slip and fall at Walmart (or another big-box store) happened on another person’s property, the legal concept of premises liability applies. Premises liability says that landowners, business owners, and property managers are responsible for certain injuries suffered by visitors while on the premises. Landowners are expected to keep their property reasonably safe so that visitors can expect to come and go unharmed.
One noteworthy case where an injured person received a settlement from Walmart happened in 2011. The case was settled for $1.3 million in 2013. A man slipped on a sign that had fallen from a display onto the floor and suffered permanent injuries to his arm. His claim included numerous medical bills as well as lost wages. Walmart attempted to blame the beverage company that provided the sign, claiming that the screws they included were inadequate. That company countered that Walmart employees had not hung the sign properly.
The man was able to receive the settlement because his attorneys were able to show that Walmart was negligent. Their carelessness caused the accident, so the victim was owed compensation for his losses.
What Makes a Walmart Liable?
In another case, a man broke his hip after his foot got stuck in a wooden pallet at Walmart while he was trying to buy a watermelon. A jury awarded him $7.5 million. This man’s case provides a good example of the factors that typically contribute to high damages for the victim. These include:
- The store owner was warned multiple times about an issue and still did nothing about it. In this case, security footage showed that multiple shoppers had gotten their feet stuck in the wooden pallets. This proved that the victim wasn’t the first person to go through this, and the danger should not have come as a surprise to Walmart.
- The owner did not warn patrons of the danger upon entering the area. Before the man twisted his foot in the pallet, he had no reason to believe that his safety was compromised. If he had known that the pallet provided a safety risk, he may have avoided it or been more careful. Walmart could have displayed the watermelons differently, or posted signage instructing customers not to step on the pallets.
- The victim suffered severe injuries as a result. Personal injury cases always take into account the severity of the injury on the victim’s life. In this case, the man’s hip was shattered. He went from being an active military veteran who played basketball a few times a week to using a walker just to get around. The injury greatly reduced the man’s quality of life and ability to do things he once enjoyed, and he was owed for it.
Premises liability cases also consider the status of the visitor at the time of the injury. Was the visitor an expected, allowed guest or was he trespassing? Was the person under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or was she of sound mind and body? Was the person breaking any posted rules at the time of the injury? All of these questions ask if Walmart was truly at fault, or if the victim himself contributed to the injury. (Even if the victim arguably did contribute, he or she may still be eligible for compensation…talk to your attorney.)
In the watermelon case, the man was allowed to be in the area, he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and there was no posted rule saying he should not step on the pallet. Thus, he did not significantly contribute to his injury.
The Difficulty After a Walmart Slip and Fall: Taking on Big Grocery
Large corporations like Walmart have access to a gigantic pool of money, which is good for recovering high damages after you’ve been injured. However, this also means that they have armies of highly paid lawyers who are prepared to fight you tooth and nail.
Walmart is also self-insured by its own company: Claims Management, Inc. (CMI). CMI’s sole purpose is to handle claims brought against the company. Instead of negotiating with a typical insurance company, victims must deal with one that is part of the huge Walmart organization.
Attempting to take on your local Walmart in court without a well-built, thoroughly researched case will almost guarantee that your case gets thrown out. This is why, if you were harmed by a dangerous condition at a supercenter like Walmart, it is essential that you talk to an experienced slip and fall attorney.
The bigger a company is, the harder it can be to sue. Hipskind & McAninch knows exactly what kind of information you will need, and will build an in-depth case to win the compensation you deserve.
We’ve handled dozens of cases just like yours, from both sides of the table. We’ll let you know if you do have a strong claim, and then tackle negotiations with the opposing lawyers to get your claim settled for the maximum amount. Ideally, we’d like to get you the money quickly, but if the store refuses to offer a reasonable amount, we have no problem taking them to court to get it.