When you slip and fall in a public area, such as a retail store, restaurant or grocery store, you could have a valid claim against the owner of the business. Whether you experience a slip and fall in a “big box” national chain, a grocery chain like Albertsons, or a more local, independent retail store, the end result is at least somewhat the same: There was negligence on the part of the store, that negligence caused you to slip and fall, and that slip and fall resulted in injury to you.
Even if the store you fell in was a huge global chain like Walmart, there is a legal obligation on the part of the store’s managers to keep all areas safe for the public. That being said, it often seems like it would be more difficult to sue for slip and fall accidents at Walmart than at your local mom and pop store, simply because Walmart—and other big chains—are likely have an entire army of attorneys at their disposal, who do only one thing—fight consumer claims against the chain.
Reasons for Slip and Falls in Public Places
One of the primary reasons for slip and falls in public places are accumulations of snow and ice, or liquid spills. Other factors involved in these accidents include the following:
- Lack of warning signs when hazardous conditions exist
- Store items or boxes stacked to dangerous heights
- Staircases which are narrow, or poorly lit
- Uneven flooring surfaces
- Poorly lit areas which make it difficult to see hazards or changes in flooring types or flooring heights
- Freshly mopped floors with no warning signs
In 2012, a Costco customer in California slipped on a puddle of liquid soap, shattering her kneecap. According to the plaintiff, multiple Costco employees had passed by the spilled liquid soap, ignoring it rather than cleaning it up. In the end, Costco was ordered to pay the plaintiff $400,000. Generally speaking, the store must be given a “reasonable” opportunity to clean up a spill or remove a hazard in order to be held liable. If there was a reasonable opportunity, with employees seeing the hazard and ignoring it, then the store is more likely to be held liable for any injuries resulting from the hazard.
As an example, on a snowy, wet day, with many customers walking in and out of the store, tracking in mud, snow and ice, it may not be reasonable to expect management to keep the floor dry and safe, although they should put up a warning sign. If, however, a customer spills a soda in the produce aisle, and employees walk by the spill multiple times without cleaning it up, then a person later suffers a slip and fall, with subsequent injuries due to the spill, there is definitely liability.
As far as Walmart is concerned, a 2003 case in Kentucky, considered a “landmark” case, was the cause of a major shift in premise liability law. Lanier v. Walmart Stores, Inc., shifted the burden of demonstrating employees caused an unsafe condition—or failed to address an unsafe condition—to the store, rather than the plaintiff. In other words, while the plaintiff had to show she suffered a slip and fall due to liquid on the floor of the Walmart store, the rebuttable presumption was that Walmart did not keep its store in a safe condition. Walmart was then required to prove it did exercise care in the maintenance of the premises. Later, in 2011, a Colorado jury awarded a plaintiff who suffered a slip and fall in a Walmart store $15 million, when her fall resulted in a permanent disability and the loss of her job.
Winning a Case Against Walmart
If you have suffered a slip and fall in a Walmart, you must immediately contact a Colorado personal injury attorney. To help you help your attorney, you need to keep careful records of all your hospital and doctor bills, including prescription drugs. Have your doctor(s) detail how your slip and fall has affected your everyday life, and if you have suffered a loss in wages, this must be carefully documented. You may also have pain and suffering, such as constant pain which affects your everyday life.
Contact Or Boulder Slip and Fall Accident Lawyers
If a Walmart representative attempts to contact you following your injury, you should definitely speak to your attorney prior to talking to the representative. Although Walmart certainly has money and attorneys on their side, your Colorado slip and fall accident attorney will be on your side, protecting your rights and your future. Boulder personal injury attorney Debbie Taussig has the experience and resources needed to win your case. Call today for a free initial consultation and review of your case.