Walmart boasts that each week, over 275 million customers and members visit our more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries and eCommerce websites in 10 countries. They reported 2019 revenue of $514.4 billion. With so much foot traffic, it is common that individuals are injured when on Walmart’s premises.
The attorneys at Kiefer & Kiefer have handled cases where a client was injured when they slipped and fell inside the store, when a defective clothing rack caused a client injury, when a client slipped in motor oil that accumulated outside of the store near the entrance, when a client was injured when a Walmart employee hit them as they were attempting to move dozens of shopping carts, and more. Here is a link to a website discussing one of our cases: https://louisianarecord.com/stories/511465185-woman-seeks-damages-following-alleged-fall-at-walmart
Clients and potential clients are left wondering What Do I Do if I was Injured at Walmart?
What to Do if You are Injured at Walmart?
The first thing you need to do if you are injured at Walmart is to request an employee get you medical attention if needed. Walmart employees can assist you in calling 911 and securing an EMT to get you immediate medical attention.
Report the accident to an employee of Walmart. Walmart requires that their employees perform an investigation into the accident by taking your written statement, taking photographs, reviewing and preserving video evidence,
Do not write or sign a statement when asked by the Walmart employee. Sometimes after a fall, you may be physically or mentally unable to write a written statement. You do not have to. Either way, Walmart will attempt to use this statement against you if you later make a claim.
Gather your own evidence while you are at Walmart and after you leave Walmart. Even if Walmart is gathering evidence, this does not mean you cannot gather your own. Not every part of the store is able to be captured on surveillance and not every employee gathers witness information perfectly. If you are able to, take your own photographs and video and get the identity and phone numbers of all available witnesses.
Do not give a recorded statement to Walmart or its claims adjusters. Walmart will make contact with you within 24 hours to check on you. They may also have a claims adjuster check on you. You are not required to speak with them. In fact, in the days after a serious injury, it is possibly you are heavily medicated, so it does not make sense to give a recorded statement that can later be used against you.
Do not accept an early settlement. In Louisiana, you have a year before you have to file a claim against Walmart. There is no rush to settle your claim, especially before you know the nature and extent of your injuries.
How Do I make a Claim against Walmart?
Walmart is self-insured for claims against it. What does this mean? Most retail stores like Walmart have a general liability insurance policy. They pay the premiums on the policy and, if someone is injured in the store, the insurance company - not the store - handles the claim. So, most claims would be made to an insurance adjuster. Not Walmart. Because Wal-Mart self-insures, Wal-Mart manages all claims against the store through a company that is controlled and owned by Wal-Mart. This means that Wal-Mart pays claims out with their own money. Walmart has its own team of claims handlers and lawyers that are paid to evaluate Walmart injury claims and to save them money by not paying out the value of the case. The Walmart injury claims can be anything from slip and falls accidents at Walmart, trip and fall accidents at Walmart, merchandise falling onto customers while they are at Walmart, customers at Walmart falling over boxes or merchandise that was left on the ground, wet or freshly waxed floors, holes in the parking lot, and defective or dangerous products in Walmart’s possession. Walmart is notorious for taking a hard line on injuries that occur at Walmart that are hard to prove and refusing to settle these claims.
What is it so Difficult to Make a Claim Against Walmart?
In addition to being self-insured and taking a hard line regarding the refusal to settle cases that have questions about the facts, in Louisiana, the law makes it difficult to prove slip and fall cases. The Louisiana Merchant Act was passed to help defer claims against retailers, like Walmart.
LA Rev Stat § 9:2800.6 (2015)
§2800.6. Burden of proof in claims against merchants
A. A merchant owes a duty to persons who use his premises to exercise reasonable care to keep his aisles, passageways, and floors in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes a reasonable effort to keep the premises free of any hazardous conditions which reasonably might give rise to damage.
B. In a negligence claim brought against a merchant by a person lawfully on the merchant's premises for damages as a result of an injury, death, or loss sustained because of a fall due to a condition existing in or on a merchant's premises, the claimant shall have the burden of proving, in addition to all other elements of his cause of action, all of the following:
(1) The condition presented an unreasonable risk of harm to the claimant and that risk of harm was reasonably foreseeable.
(2) The merchant either created or had actual or constructive notice of the condition which caused the damage, prior to the occurrence.
(3) The merchant failed to exercise reasonable care. In determining reasonable care, the absence of a written or verbal uniform cleanup or safety procedure is insufficient, alone, to prove failure to exercise reasonable care.
(1) "Constructive notice" means the claimant has proven that the condition existed for such a period of time that it would have been discovered if the merchant had exercised reasonable care. The presence of an employee of the merchant in the vicinity in which the condition exists does not, alone, constitute constructive notice, unless it is shown that the employee knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, of the condition.
(2) "Merchant" means one whose business is to sell goods, foods, wares, or merchandise at a fixed place of business. For purposes of this Section, a merchant includes an innkeeper with respect to those areas or aspects of the premises which are similar to those of a merchant, including but not limited to shops, restaurants, and lobby areas of or within the hotel, motel, or inn.
So, it is a common experience that a person who is injured in a store gets left in the dark. No one from the store contacts the injured person, and phone calls to the number go unreturned. Paperwork gets lost, and the claim gets delayed. It is also common that if you do get to talk with someone, they are telling you that your claim is denied and they will pay you nothing.
What Should I do If I am Injured at Walmart and Want to Make a Claim?
Many people get discouraged if their claim is denied and give up, and then Wal-Mart does not have to compensate these people for the injuries they caused because they “go away”. This is one reason why it is so important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after you are injured. Because Walmart will fight you on any type of claim you attempt to make, it is important to consult an experienced attorney who knows the best way to litigate these cases. Basically, to win against Walmart, you need to fight back and show them you mean business. Your lawyer will help you to
Evaluate your injury and fall and let you know if it is a case that is a valid claim.
Gather evidence and make sure that Walmart does not destroy evidence.
Negotiate your case with Walmart and try to resolve it prior to filing a lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial to get you the compensation you deserve.
At Kiefer & Kiefer, we have handled many of these cases. We know what we have to prove to get you compensation, and we will gather the evidence to pressure Walmart to give you what you deserve. And if they do not, we have a team of experienced trial lawyers ready to take your case to trial.
This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.