Visitor Question

When is a store held liable for a slip and fall?

Submitted By: Anna (Abbeville, Louisiana)

I live in Louisiana and was at my local Walmart. I was in a rush to exchange a book sack for my son and as I went to turn towards the isle, I slipped on something wet. I was able to stop myself from falling but not without hurting myself.

I looked down and there was something (possibly water) on the ground, and no “wet floor” sign anywhere. I immediately alerted an employee and showed them where the spill was. The employee apologized and called for someone to bring an accident report. She then took pictures of the spill and had someone bring paper towels to clean it.

I let her know that my ankle was hurting and she said that she hoped I was ok. I filled out the accident report quickly because I was in a rush. After finishing, she told me she would call me in a day or two to check on me and I left. Later on that day I realized how much I was hurting and went to the hospital. Sure enough I have a sprained ankle, sprained neck, and back pain.

I have a 5 month old, 3 year old, and a 4 year old who are very active and their father just had eye surgery. I was prescribed 1 muscle relaxer and 2 pain medications. As of right now I’m waiting for the employee to call me.

Am I entitled to compensation? If so how much?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anna,

Based on the facts, Walmart would appear to be wholly liable for your injuries. As a shopper, Walmart owed you a duty to do everything within reason to make sure the premises were safe and free from dangerous defects. This includes monitoring the store for dangerous conditions.

For example, it is incumbent upon store management to be sure merchandise is set out on the shelves in a manner in which it will not fall and injure someone, or that counter top edges should not be sharp enough to cut a shopper, or that spills be cleaned up promptly so shoppers won’t slip and fall.

There is a caveat. While Walmart has a duty to do everything within reason to avoid spills, that duty is qualified. For example, management at Walmart likely has employees assigned to walking the aisles looking for fallen merchandise, restocking merchandise, looking for acts of theft, and making sure spills are eliminated. This includes making sure cautionary cones are set out in areas which are wet. Security cameras are also in place to monitor the premises.

However, because the average Walmart today is over 180,000 square feet¹, it would be virtually impossible for every spill in the store to be immediately identified and eliminated. With that said, if Walmart management knew, or should have known there was a spill and failed to take action to set out cautionary cones, and mop up the spill, then Walmart would be wholly liable for your injuries.

In the alternative, because of the massive size of the Walmart, if the spill had occurred within a few minutes before you slipped on it, it could be argued Walmart did not have sufficient time to identify the spill and eliminate it. In that case, Walmart would likely not be liable for you injuries.

Presuming Walmart accepts liability, you should be entitled to compensation for your medical and chiropractic bills (if applicable), your out-of-pocket expenses for such items as medications, costs of travel to and from treatment, babysitting costs (if you had to leave the children while treating), etc., lost wages, and a reasonable amount for your pain and suffering, sometimes referred to as mental anguish or emotional distress.

Without knowing the extent of your back injury, and the type of medical treatment you will need, it is impossible to suggest a reasonable amount of compensation.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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