There are plenty of Walmarts in the Metro East area. From the Supercenter on Green Mount Commons to the one off Highway 50 in O’Fallon, these massive retailers are popular because they seem to have everything….plus the exciting danger of falling on a wet floor and splitting your chin.
A slip-and-fall can catch you off guard and take you from “feeling great” to “seriously injured” in a matter of seconds. When your slip-and-fall was caused by the carelessness of a large corporation, things get complicated.
You were just trying to get your weekly grocery shopping done. Say you dropped by the Walmart in Cahokia on your way home from St. Louis. If you slipped, or tripped, and fell, breaking a hipbone, you may be wondering what comes next. Is Walmart liable for your injury? Can you expect to be eligible for compensation? Let’s just say, an experienced Belleville personal injury attorney can help you work through the details, and ensure that you get the justice you deserve. Keep reading for a brief explanation of how these cases work.
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.
At the beginning of 2018, a federal judge allowed a woman who fell in a Walmart store to move forward with her case against the corporation. The woman fell on cherries that had spilled on the floor in one of the highest-traffic areas of the store. There were no floor mats in the area. Walmart had deviated from its standard safety policy by not having floor mats down. In this case, the woman is arguing that the store had previous knowledge that cherry displays pose inherent slip-and-fall risks. Because of this, they should have stood by their usual safety policy and had floor mats in the area. In addition, they should not have placed the cherry stand in a high-traffic area of the store (ALM Media). We’ll wait and see how the case resolves, but it sounds like she’s got a decent claim.
What Makes a Walmart Liable?
In another fruit-related case, a man broke his hip after his foot got stuck in a wooden pallet at Walmart while he was trying to buy watermelon. A jury awarded him $7.5 million (Chicago Tribune). 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 proves 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.
- 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. (Trust us—we at Hipskind & McAninch, LLC, used to handle these cases for preeminent insurance defense firms in St. Louis. We know how they go after victims.)
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. John Hipskind and Brady McAninch know exactly what kind of information you 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.
The best part? You owe us no fees until we get you that settlement or jury verdict. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so please, just give us a call at (618) 641-9189 to set up your free, no-holds-barred, no-time-limits consultation.
Until you need us, stay safe out there on Aisle 2—and don’t forget the potato salad!