Slip and Fall Cases Against Walmart

Clayton T. Hasbrook

Written by Clayton T. Hasbrook. Last modified on February 19, 2024

Fact-Checked
Office Information
Address
Hasbrook & Hasbrook
400 N Walker Ave #130, Oklahoma City, OK
Phone:

Slip and Fall Cases Against WalmartSlip-and-fall cases are relatively common in personal injury litigation, so it’s no surprise that many involve the largest grocery chain in the U.S.

With Walmart’s size, they even created their own insurance company! If you need to contact them directly, Walmart’s insurance company is:

Claims Management, Inc.

PO Box 14731

Lexington, KY 40512

(800) 527-0566

The Grocery GoliathFancy Walmart Grocery Store

As of January this year, Walmart operates 5,342 branches in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. (and another 6,101 branches outside the U.S.). Texas is home to a tenth of its in-country stores, way more than Arkansas, where it established its first store in 1962. D.C. has the least number of stores, having only five.

Walmart is the largest grocery chain in terms of sales. For the 2020-21 fiscal year, the company generated an estimated $434 billion, up by 8.53% from almost $400 billion in the 2019-20 fiscal year. Some grocery brands have more stores, but none comes close sales-wise–not counting Walmart’s $125 billion in overseas sales.

Having this much capital means this grocery giant operates differently regarding handling liability claims. Whereas most businesses would secure third-party liability insurance, Walmart created its own insurance company, Claims Management, Inc. (CMI), to handle claims.

Results have been less than stellar. CMI has been doing business for 27 years, yet it has yet to be accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Based on customer reviews, its entry currently stands at one out of five stars, and the BBB lacks information on the company to give it a rating.

You might think Walmart could afford to improve their stores’ safety standards, given how much they make in a year. However, its stores have been at the heart of crime reports and public safety concerns. Its millions of workers–cashiers, stockers, and everyone in between–are at as much risk as their customers.

More importantly, as most personal injury lawyers would tell you, Walmart has a system for attempting to avoid large payouts.

Walmart Premises Liability Defense Law Firm

What law firm defends Walmart in Oklahoma?

Walmart split our state in half on how their premises lawsuits are defended. If the location of your accident occurred in Oklahoma City, or the west side of the state, Hiltgen & Brewer, P.C. will likely be on the other side of your case. If the Walmart where you were injured is in Tulsa, or the east side of the state, you can expect Latham, Keele, Lehman, Ratcliff, Carter & Clarke to defend the lawsuit. The firms also represent Sam's Clubs in Oklahoma.

The Anatomy of Walmart’s Defense

In a personal injury case, let alone a slip-and-fall one, most establishments won’t admit fault (negligence). Walmart tends to take this one step further with various tactics. Operating its own claims agency is just one of many.

  • The Recorded Statement Trap

You know how part of Miranda’s rights goes: “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Of course, you’re not a criminal as the injured party, but Walmart can use even offhanded comments to strengthen its defense case.

One move Walmart might try involves getting the injured party to ask for a recorded statement about the incident. Sometimes, they throw in a bone in the form of a promise to expedite the person’s claim or reimburse their medical expenses in exchange for a statement.

Walmart’s purpose in asking, or claiming, a recorded statement is required? To build their defense case.

As a precaution, never agree to give any statement before consulting a lawyer. Contrary to popular belief, you’re not obligated to provide one until you’ve filed a formal lawsuit, which would be at a deposition. Having a lawyer prepare the injured party for a deposition can better protect the victim against misleading questions. A recorded statement early on, while you’re still treating, doesn’t help resolve your claim favorably.

  • Downplaying The Severity

Building a slip-and-fall case against Walmart or any establishment requires the injury to be severe enough. Most personal injury lawyers are reluctant to take claims where the damage doesn’t result in a broken bone or worse (it’s expensive to take a case to trial).

Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but there’s a more pressing reason Walmart downplays the injury: either to encourage you not to get the medical treatment you need or to try later to claim that you are getting too much medical treatment.

As a result, the adjuster may return to you with a far less offer than you expect. Your priority is getting the medical treatment you need, not following Walmart’s advice.

  • Delaying Tactics

No matter the injury’s severity, the victim will still have to pay their daily bills. A broken limb or back injury can throw a wrench even in the most well-planned budget. Insurance companies know how to take advantage of this situation.

The Walmart adjuster may take weeks to return your phone call. As the wait grows longer, the adjuster may be counting on your bills piling up to the point where you have no choice but to accept a low settlement offer.

These delaying tactics come in many forms, such as:

  • Blaming the victim for not cooperating
  • Constantly asking for new paperwork
  • Changing the assigned contact person (adjuster)
  • Not answering calls or correspondence
  • Refusing to process the claim without a lawyer

Delaying tactics rely on the injured party’s urgency to pay their bills. It’s hard to urge them not to accept the adjuster’s lowball offer if they’re low on funds.

Establishing Liability

Even if someone slipped and fell during a grocery run at an Oklahoma City Walmart, it doesn’t automatically hold Walmart accountable. There’s a possibility that a fellow grocer’s butterfingers had made the puddle that caused the slip and fall. Establishing liability against Walmart usually boils down to:

  1. Did Walmart create the dangerous condition?
  2. If not, did Walmart have notice of the dangerous condition?
  3. If not, should Walmart have known of the dangerous condition?

For a slip-and-fall case to stand (sorry for the pun on a slip-and-fall), the plaintiff must prove negligence, or that one party had done something that made the situation less safe to a reasonable person and caused harm. Holding a party liable for negligence involves:

  • Duty – Walmart has a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of its customers. This should be relatively easy to prove, as businesses must maintain a safe shopping environment regardless of size. Again, the case may hinge on why the dangerous condition was there. Walmart isn’t responsible if someone spills their drink a few seconds before you walk through the puddle. On the other hand, if the puddle has been there for a significant time, Walmart should have had plenty of time to clean it up or, at the very least, provide notice of the wet floor.
  • Breach – Walmart failed to fulfill its legal responsibility. Being aware of the cause of the slip and fall but doing nothing to resolve it is considered a breach of such an obligation.
  • Causation – Walmart’s failure to fulfill its duties caused the slip-and-fall incident. In this case, causation may not be immediately apparent. Walmart will likely blame you for the type of shoes you wear – or that you somehow saw the clear liquid on the floor and chose to walk through it.
  • Damage – The accident at Walmart caused your injuries. Most people have “pre-existing” health conditions. For example, on a shoulder injury case, Walmart’s attorneys will likely claim that the shoulder was already injured – somehow before the fall tore the injured party’s rotator cuff.

Establishing liability through these factors doesn’t mean the case is as good as won. Defendants can attempt to hold the plaintiff somewhat, if not equally, liable for the incident. Three common ways to do this involve:

  • Comparative/Contributory Negligence – Walmart could argue that the victim played a part in it, depending on the state where the incident occurred. In a comparative negligence state (like Oklahoma), the plaintiff may see their claims reduced by 40% if a jury agrees that the plaintiff should have been paying more attention and that the plaintiff was 40% at fault. Meanwhile, in a contributory negligence state, the plaintiff may be denied claims if they’re at least 1% responsible for the occurrence (Oklahoma had years ago).
  • Assumption of Risk – Walmart could prove that the victim knew the risk of stepping onto the puddle or a slippery area yet continued to do so. Icy sidewalks are the most common example, and a jury will likely agree with Walmart.
  • Open and Obvious Condition – Walmart is not liable if it can show that the dangerous condition was “open and obvious.” Walmart may point to the wet floor sign in a bathroom to show that the plaintiff knows that their bathroom floor was flooded.

Building Your Claim

Going up against a corporate giant like Walmart won’t be easy. The company will attempt to reduce, if not deny, your claim and call it a day. So, it’s important to build your case from the beginning.

First, secure as many pieces of evidence as possible. The more documents and evidence you compile, the harder it’ll be for Walmart to diminish your case. Your documentation should include (but not limited to):

  • Photos and videos of the incident scene
  • Statements from witnesses on the scene
    • Don’t rely on Walmart’s Incident Report. Write down the contact information of anyone you talk to or who witnessed your injury.
  • Medical records and bills from your doctors
  • Proof that you missed workdays due to your injury (for your lost income claim)
  • The clothes and footwear you wore at the time of the accident

Second, immediately report the incident to Walmart. Ideally, you can do this where you were injured – before Walmart can clean up their mess. While this may appear counterintuitive, Walmart must know that an incident happened in one of their stores. One of their managers should be called and will come to you in the store. Ask for a copy of the incident report before you leave the store.

Lastly, if you have questions, talk with a lawyer. Our personal injury attorneys will meet with you for free to help you evaluate your case.

Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents at Walmart

Wet or Slippery Floorswet floor sign placed in a grocery store

Wet floors, whether from spills or cleaning, are a leading cause of slip-and-fall accidents in Walmart stores.

Obstacles in Aisles

Items left in aisles can create tripping hazards for unsuspecting shoppers.

Poor Lighting

Inadequate lighting can make it difficult for customers to see potential hazards, increasing the risk of falls.

Negligent Maintenance

Failure to properly maintain premises, including fixing broken flooring or addressing leaks, can lead to accidents.

Fact-Checked

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Clayton T. Hasbrook who has years of legal experience as a personal injury lawyer. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.