Many people have accidents each year and in many cases, a simple slip and fall can cause a serious injury. If you have slipped in a public space like a Walmart, the property owner or manager may be liable and need to pay damages. Any space open to the public must be maintained for safety, so hazards like a wet floor need to be handled properly. Get informed, gather any evidence, and consult a lawyer, especially if you are burdened with medical bills due to an accident.
Liability and Negligence
Liability typically falls on the property owner, which for Walmart is usually the partner company Walmart Realty. Since they lease the property to Walmart and Sam’s Club locations, and sometimes all the surrounding stores, the renter would become liable for maintaining safe use of the space.
The area around a store is considered a part of the property. If you slip on unsalted ice or trip on uneven sidewalks outside, it might have been the responsibility of the property owner to fix or block off the dangerous terrain.
Without proof of negligence, liability does not impact accidents like a slip. It can’t be the fault of the injured party and the property owner must be acting negligently.
A large part of proving that negligence has happened will be dependant on whether the property owner acted reasonably. If you’ve ever used the public restroom in a large facility or restaurant, chances are you’ve seen an inspection chart initialed by staff at regular intervals. This is one way that property owners establish that they have a regular schedule of inspection and maintenance or cleaning.
A new hazard has to be detected and dealt with in a reasonable amount of time. Showing that Walmart staff had previous knowledge about a potential danger will go a long way towards helping your case.
To really prove that the property owner is at fault, you also need to take your own actions into consideration. Avoiding warnings or entering a restricted or otherwise clearly dangerous area will push a lot of the fault back on you. For example, climbing the shelves at Walmart to reach the last item in stock for something you want and then falling, means you were acting carelessly. You will have to show a good reason behind your actions, so reflect on the full situation.
The simplest way to think back on your role in the accident is to ask yourself, “Would a careful person have done the same thing?”
If you disregarded any warning signs or visual cues that there was a dangerous situation, this can hurt your chances of getting a settlement. If you were acting chaotically or in an improper manner, like running through a store or generally goofing around, this also shifts the blame to you.
If you have decided to sue a property owner like Walmart for an accident you had on their property, you can usually request the backlogs of maintenance and cleaning reports. This can help you prove negligence, but may also show that in this case, Walmart did nothing wrong.
Right after an accident, if you are able to, take photos of the scene to document the hazardous conditions or lack of safety warnings. You should also request a copy of the security camera footage, although this might have to be done by an attorney for an active case.
Saving receipts for any resulting medical expenses is another great step to take. Document the extent of any sustained injuries and be upfront with your doctor about needing documentation. If paramedics were called to the store for the injury, you should get records and bills from them as well.
You can directly call Walmart’s claim services department, but you should start by sending letters and emails. Establishing a paper trail is often the first piece of advice and assistance an attorney will offer you for injury claims. Be careful with your wording, so you don’t implicate yourself; consult an Orlando slip and fall accident lawyer if you’re unsure of what to say.