With over 5,000 branches across the United States, including over 130 stores in Pennsylvania, Walmart is a weekly destination for millions of consumers. Walmart locations are massive spaces that cover an average of 105,000 square feet and don’t always provide a safe environment. Accidental injuries can happen in seconds, often because of slip and fall hazards like spilled liquids, torn carpeting, objects cluttering the aisles, and other lurking dangers.
According to Pennsylvania's law, Walmart is responsible for any form of negligence that leads to a serious slip and fall accident on its premises. However, holding this super retailer accountable is easier said than done.
Walmart is notorious for fighting tooth and nail to avoid paying compensation after a slip and fall accident, leaving many victims struggling with medical bills and other damages. Most people in this difficult situation will need an experienced slip and fall injury lawyer with the resources to build a solid case and prove Walmart’s liability.
When Is Walmart Responsible for a Slip and Fall Accident?
Like all property owners in Pennsylvania, Walmart has a legal responsibility to keep their indoor and outdoor areas reasonably safe for anyone that visits the property legally. Walmart stores can have hundreds of people on the premises at any given moment. Without sensible safety measures, these massive retail establishments can become downright dangerous.
However, Walmart is not automatically liable when someone suffers a slip and fall accident on the premises. There’s a high legal standard for holding property owners responsible for slip and fall injuries, and this is something Walmart uses to its advantage.
Liability depends on proving that Walmart's negligent behavior caused the unsafe situation that led to the victim's injuries. In other words, Walmart is not responsible for a freak accident that it couldn't prevent or for a scenario where someone gets hurt because of their carelessness.
Under Pennsylvania’s premises liability laws, winning a slip and fall claim depends on proving a few essential elements:
Walmart owed the victim a duty of care
Property owners are legally obligated to maintain their property up to certain safety and health standards to ensure the safety of all legal visitors on their premises. Property owners are particularly responsible for the safety of visitors they invited in, like customers.
In this case, Walmart’s duty of care includes inspecting the stores regularly, fixing any potential slip and fall hazards within a reasonable amount of time, and warning about any dangers that wouldn’t be obvious.
Walmart’s negligent actions violated this duty of care.
The legal definition of negligence centers on failing to mitigate risks that any reasonable person would have considered dangerous. Victims must prove that Walmart didn’t maintain their property up to reasonable standards and that this lapse created the conditions for a preventable slip and fall accident to unfold.
To establish this element, the victim’s attorney has to show that Walmart either knew about the slip and fall hazard or should have been reasonably expected to know if the store had adequate safety measures.
Some examples of negligence that could cause a slip and fall accident on Walmart’s premises include:
- Slipping hazards, like freshly-mopped or waxed floors without a warning sign of slippery conditions, spilled products, pooled water under a ceiling leak, or lack of floor mats near the store’s entrance on a rainy day.
- Tripping hazards include merchandise cluttering the aisles, loose floor tiles, torn or raised carpeting, and exposed electrical cords.
- Accumulated snow or ice in the parking lot
- Potholes or large cracks on the store’s outdoor walkways
Walmart’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries and damages
A successful slip and fall accident against Walmart has to show that the store’s lack of reasonable care was the direct cause of the victim’s serious injuries. A strong case will use evidence like security footage, photos, and witness statements that prove Walmart’s negligence caused the accident and any resulting injuries. Being able to win this type of claim also centers on demonstrating the victim’s economic and non-economic damages from the accident, such as hospital bills, lost income, and emotional distress.
Walmart’s Aggressive Tactics for Fighting Slip and Fall Claims
In the aftermath of suffering injuries from a preventable slip and fall accident on Walmart's premises, victims will be dealing with various physical and financial consequences. Unfortunately, recovering compensation from Walmart is very difficult and comes with unique challenges. Walmart is such a massive operation that, unlike virtually every other business, the retail giant does not purchase personal injury liability policies from insurance companies.
Instead, Walmart has set up a dedicated company called Claims Management Inc (CMI), whose sole purpose is to handle personal injury claims filed against its stores. This entity has become well-known for using aggressive tactics to limit Walmart’s liability, reduce settlement amounts and deny as many claims as possible.
Walmart's hardline stance toward handling personal injury claims is partly because the company must pay all compensation out of pocket rather than a third-party insurer. CMI employs a fleet of adjusters and lawyers who are well-versed in helping Walmart avoid responsibility for slip and fall injuries due to negligence. Without skilled legal representation, many victims of a Walmart slip and fall accident won't know how to navigate this stressful process and end up walking away with less than they deserve.
The strategies CMI employees use to handle a slip and fall claim can include:
Minimizing The Victim’s Injuries
Once you file a slip and fall claim against Walmart, CMI representatives will contact you to begin collecting information and building their case against you. They request documentation of all medical care related to the accident, lost income from being unable to work, and any other elements of your case. CMI uses these records to minimize the value of your claim with arguments that your injuries aren’t as serious as you say, some of the treatments you received weren’t medically necessary, or you took more time off work than needed.
Using the Victim’s Recorded Statement Against Them
CMI agents will generally ask slip and fall injury victims to give a detailed recorded statement going over the circumstances of the accident. Many victims don’t realize that they’re under no obligation to submit to this kind of interrogation, and it’s not required when filing a compensation claim.
More importantly, it's never a good idea to talk to Walmart's team without having your attorney as an intermediary. CMI representatives are skilled at asking leading questions that can elicit a potentially damaging response. For example, the victim might make the throwaway comment that they "rushed into Walmart quickly before work," This can get twisted to argue the victim's carelessness injured them.
Delay The Processing Claims, Then Make a Lowball Offer
Without an attorney to help them protect their legal rights, victims of a Walmart slip and fall accident can find the claims process frustrating and unclear. CMI agents have a tactic of delaying the different steps for as long as possible, which injects a lot of stress and uncertainty into the experience. With medical bills piling up, these delay tactics pressure the victim to accept Walmart's unreasonably low settlement offers.
Understanding The Value Of Your Slip and Fall Case Against Walmart
Slip and fall accidents can result in injuries ranging from minor to very serious or even life-threatening. Hitting the ground in an abrupt, hard motion is very painful and dangerous, especially for the elderly. Common slip and fall injuries include broken bones, hip fractures, torn ligaments, and knee injuries. The most serious cases may involve catastrophic injuries that lead to permanent disabilities, like traumatic brain injuries or major spinal cord damage.
The reality of suffering a slip and fall accident due to Walmart’s negligence is that victims will struggle to recover fair compensation, especially if the accident led to substantial damages. Walmart’s strategy for handling personal injury claims is to make the process very intimidating and pay victims as little as possible.
An experienced slip and fall attorney can provide crucial support to even out the playing field, determine the real value of your claim, and negotiate the highest settlement possible. Legal representation is often the deciding factor between victims being able to cover their damages from the accident or being cheated out of fair compensation.
Your attorney can evaluate the value of your slip and fall accident case by using factors such as:
- The nature, severity, and extent of your injuries
- The physical and emotional pain you endured because of your injuries
- Walmart’s level of negligence in causing the circumstances of the accident
- The victim’s degree of responsibility for causing the accident
- The impact your injuries have made on your income, both now and in the future
- How the injuries affect your quality of life, both now and in the future
How a Slip and Fall Attorney Can Help
The consequences can be heartbreaking when Walmart doesn’t invest the necessary resources to keep its stores safe from slip and fall hazards. A serious slip and fall accident will have major consequences for victims and their families, including medical bills, lost wages, and physical and emotional hardships.
Trying to get compensation from Walmart is another significant challenge of this ordeal, but a skilled slip and fall attorney can make a huge difference. Here are some steps a lawyer can take to help you navigate the legal process.
Investigate the circumstances of the accident
Proving that your slip and fall accident happened on Walmart’s premises isn’t enough to reach Pennsylvania’s legal standard of negligence. Your attorney’s team will use all available resources to establish Walmart’s liability for allowing a hazardous situation to unfold and directly causing the victim’s damages.
This evidence can include surveillance footage, photos or videos taken at the scene, and witness statements. Your lawyer can also substantiate the victim’s claims using expert testimony, such as medical specialists explaining how the injuries happened.
Document the victim’s damages
A successful slip and fall claim has to present solid evidence of all the losses the victim suffered from getting injured on Walmart’s premises. Coming up with a specific dollar amount is complicated but essential. The amount needed to cover the victim’s damages will include economic costs like reimbursement for all past and future medical expenses and compensation for lost wages.
In the case of injuries that cause a long-term disability, victims could also recover compensation for a permanently reduced earning capacity. Pennsylvania courts also recognize all the non-economic losses resulting from a slip and fall accident, like physical pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and emotional distress.
Negotiate a Settlement
When you don’t have an attorney handling your slip and fall claim, dealing with CMI is grueling. Walmart’s strategy for resolving slip and fall claims is to offer victims much less than they deserve and to discourage the claimant from pursuing their legal rights.
Your lawyer’s job is to push back with evidence, make counter offers, and negotiate a more reasonable settlement. While most slip and fall claims against Walmart will eventually get settled out of court, there are also scenarios where taking this retail giant to civil court is the best option.
If you or a loved one suffered serious slip and fall injuries on the premises of a Walmart store, getting your damages covered won’t be easy. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for filing a slip and fall claim is only two years from the date of the accident, which gives victims a limited amount of time to prepare a winning case. With so much at stake, it’s important to contact a slip and fall accident lawyer sooner rather than later.