After a slip and fall at Walmart, you may seek compensation for your losses. But payment isn’t automatic. In most cases, it takes the skill and effort of an experienced slip and fall lawyer to get you the maximum damages from Walmart or anyone else liable to you. Here’s an overview of the slip and fall claim process and why you need a slip and fall accident lawyer to get you compensation when you fall and get hurt at Walmart.
How Common Are Preventable Falls at Big Box Stores?
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), around one million people receive treatment in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained in falls yearly in the U.S. Falls can lead to severe injuries, including hip fractures and other broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, injuries to the spinal cord or the spinal vertebrae and discs, and soft tissue injuries such as sprained ankles and wrists. While falls can injure people of any age, they can cause the most damage to older people who struggle with declining vision, strength, and balance.
Big box retail stores like Walmart frequently see slip and fall accidents. The sheer volume of shoppers who pass through large retail stores on any given day makes them hotspots for falls. So do common hazards inside stores like product displays blocking aisles, merchandise that has fallen off shelves or racks, and wet flooring due to spilled liquid or rain and snow tracked in by customers. Areas outside a big box store can also feature fall dangers, including cracked sidewalks, potholes, uneven pavement, and uncleared ice and snow.
Your Rights as a Slip and Fall Victim
Shoppers who fall and get hurt at a big box store like Walmart have valuable legal rights to compensation for their injuries. Lawyers refer to these cases as “slip and falls,” although the name can mislead you. You don’t have to slip before falling to bring a slip and fall claim. Any incident where a dangerous condition at a big box store like Walmart injured you in a fall could qualify as a slip and fall, no matter how you lost your balance.
- You slipped on spilled liquid in the grocery aisle;
- You tripped on cracked tiles in the entryway;
- Your feet got tangled on clothes that had fallen off a rack; or
- You lost your footing on broken pavement in the parking lot.
Numerous parties could owe you money damages for your slip and fall accident. And you could claim significant amounts of compensation. Here’s an overview.
Liability for Your Slip and Fall
The law generally entitles you to seek compensation from anyone whose careless, reckless, or intentional actions caused your fall at a Walmart. You may also may seek payment from others legally obligated to answer for an at-fault party’s conduct, such as insurance companies.
In most slip and fall cases, the owner, tenant, or manager of the property where the fall happened bears liability to the injured person. That’s because, by law, owners and others who control commercial premises must ensure the safety of their customers. So, if you fell at a Walmart, the law may require Walmart to pay your damages.
But Walmart might not be the only party that owes you compensation. Another individual, business, or entity could share that liability or even bear it entirely.
- The owner or operator of the shopping complex (if different from Walmart)
- A fellow Walmart customer whose wrongful actions contributed to your fall
- A third-party who caused the hazard leading to your fall, such as a construction contractor that fails to keep customers away from a store area undergoing renovations.
- An insurance company or self-insurance entity that covers an at-fault party’s liability to you.
In other words, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that Walmart is the only party who may owe you compensation for a fall. Multiple parties could owe you money.
Slip and Fall Damages
As the victim of a fall at Walmart, you may have a claim for all physical, emotional, and financial consequences you’ve suffered.
The law generally entitled you to payment for your:
- Medical expenses treating your fall injuries and any future complications of them;
- Other costs of adapting to or living with your injuries;
- Lost pay and benefits from work you missed while healing;
- Future financial losses due to the fall leaving you temporarily or permanently disabled;
- Physical pain and discomfort from your injury or medical treatments;
- Emotional distress caused by the fall and your injuries; and
- Diminished quality and enjoyment of life.
Sometimes, the law also entitles fall victims to seek punitive damages to punish the at-fault party’s extreme or malicious misconduct. The amount you claim can depend on the severity of your injuries and their impact on your life, but due to the enormous costs of medical treatment, the total could reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s Risky to Deal With Walmart Claims Services Directly
As discussed, Walmart frequently faces liability for its customers’ slip and fall injuries since it’s the owner, tenant, or manager of its stores with a legal duty to ensure customer safety.
Unlike many businesses, Walmart doesn’t generally carry insurance to cover those damages. Instead, Walmart self-insures, meaning it investigates, evaluates, determines, and pays slip and fall claims in-house rather than purchasing coverage from an insurer that serves those functions on its behalf.
Walmart Claims Services, Inc. (WCS), also known as Arkansas Claims Management, Inc., acts as the administrator for slip and fall claims against Walmart. Typically, its employees will investigate your fall and any potential liability Walmart has for your injuries. You may have the option of submitting a claim for slip and fall compensation directly to WCS instead of first filing a lawsuit.
But dealing with WCS without a lawyer can be extremely risky. WCS bills itself as a customer service provider, but its mission is to minimize Walmart’s liability for slip and fall injuries like yours. As soon as WCS learns of your fall and injury, it begins seeking information from you, its store, and others that Walmart can use to justify refusing to pay your damages in full.
Like an insurance company, WCS may use tactics designed to get you to undermine or devalue your claim.
For example, even before you’ve submitted a claim, a WCS employee may seek to interview you on a recorded line so they can ask you loaded questions that invite answers that could harm your rights. Or they may request disclosure of years of medical records they have no right to see. Or they may offer you a quick, lowball settlement that pays you far less than you deserve.
Agreeing to any of these overtures can damage your legal rights and leave you unable to obtain the money you need to pay your bills and recover from your fall.
Hiring a slip and fall lawyer protects you from these sorts of tactics. An attorney can handle all dealings with WCS and other Walmart entities on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about saying, disclosing, or agreeing to the wrong thing. A lawyer can also prepare and submit claim paperwork to WCS and negotiate a settlement of your claim (if possible). And a lawyer can advise you whether to accept or reject any settlement offer Walmart makes.
A Lawyer Can Independently Investigate and Evaluate Your Claim
WCS isn’t the only party entitled to explore what happened to you. A lawyer can independently investigate your Walmart slip and fall and evaluate your losses. By doing so, the lawyer can identify all parties who may owe you compensation and establish the amount you should receive. Those efforts can maximize your likelihood of obtaining enough money to cover your current and future expenses.
While investigating, a lawyer can also begin collecting evidence for a court case seeking damages from Walmart or someone else who bears liability.
For example, a lawyer could work to secure:
- Store security camera footage of your fall and the area where it occurred;
- Statements from eyewitnesses who saw your fall or the hazardous condition that caused it;
- Walmart’s internal records and reporting of the incident;
- Medical records of your treatment for fall injuries; and
- Bills, invoices, receipts, and other records documenting your financial losses.
The sooner a lawyer can begin collecting evidence to support your claim, the greater the likelihood of securing fair compensation. So don’t delay. Contact a lawyer ASAP to ensure none of the evidence you need gets lost, deleted, or forgotten.
A Lawyer Can Take Your Walmart Slip and Fall Claim to Court
Submitting a claim to Walmart’s in-house claim administrator WCS isn’t necessarily an injured customer’s only option for seeking compensation after a slip and fall. If the law entitles you to damages for the harm you suffered in a fall at Walmart, you usually have the right to take your claim against any liable party including Walmart to court.
An experienced slip and fall lawyer can handle preparing, filing, and pursuing a lawsuit on your behalf, whether against Walmart or someone else liable to you. And if necessary, a lawyer can present your case to a judge and jury at a trial.
Filing a lawsuit for your Walmart slip and fall injuries doesn’t always mean your case will end up in a courtroom. Most slip and fall lawsuits settle out of court before a trial. But having a lawyer prepared to go the distance to secure fair compensation can often apply the pressure necessary to get you a favorable outcome from Walmart or another liable party.
Hiring a Walmart Slip and Fall Lawyer is Affordable
Don’t let your money worries prevent you from talking to an experienced lawyer about your Walmart slip and fall claim. Hiring a lawyer to handle your case is affordable no matter what your financial circumstances or the potential size of your recovery.
Lawyers for Walmart slip and fall victims offer a free case evaluation for you to learn about your rights and options. You’ll never have to pay for this initial meeting, even if you decide not to hire them.
Slip and fall attorneys also regularly represent their clients on a contingent fee basis. That means they only receive a fee for their services if they get you results. They don’t charge upfront or by the hour. You only pay them if they win for you.
Contact an Experienced Walmart Slip and Fall Claim Lawyer Today
After falling and getting hurt at a Walmart, you may have rights to receive significant monetary damages from Walmart or another party. But getting them to pay what they owe can take considerable effort. Walmart investigates and defends customer slip and fall claims aggressively. To make it a fair fight, you need a lawyer who can build and present a convincing case for damages and knows how to negotiate with Walmart’s in-house claims administrator.
Act quickly to preserve your rights. If you or someone you love fell and suffered injuries at a Walmart store, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Denver today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.