In this article, I talk about:
- How to know whether you have a case if you are injured at or by Walmart in Florida.
- How to handle your accident case against Walmart so that you can find to get as much money (compensation) as possible.
- Settlements and verdicts (with a focus on pain and suffering) in Florida against Walmart.
If you have a legitimate claim against Walmart, you should try to get your damages (medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering) paid. You have to prove that Walmart did something wrong (was negligent) to cause your injuries in order to get money for your damages.
1. Slip and falls.
If you are injured at or by Walmart, you should immediately get medical help and report the claim to the store manager. If you slipped and fell on a substance, assuming your pain has not immobilized you, you should take pictures of the substance that you fell on. You can be sure that a Walmart employee will take pictures of the area where you fell.
Walmart has many video cameras throughout the store. Do not assume that just because there are video cameras in the area where you fell that they were working at the time of your accident. Some of the video cameras may be “dummy” (fake) cameras and not work. Do not assume that Walmart will keep this video if it exists.
You should get the names and contact information of any witnesses that saw your fall, saw the area where you fell, or saw the substance that you fell on. As soon as possible, you want to have each witness sign an affidavit stating the facts of what they observed.
If you slipped and fell at a Walmart in Florida, you need to prove that Walmart knew or should have known that the substance was on the floor before you fell. The substance could be a grape, a banana, a box, etc. The easiest way to prove that Walmart should have known that the substance was on the floor is with your (or another’s) testimony (if true of course) that you did not see anyone in the area for 15 minutes or more before you fell.
You can also prove that Walmart should have known the substance was on the floor by stating (if true) that it was rotting, or that there were tracks, smudges, streaks, or footprints where you fell. These all help you show that the substance was there for a long period of time before you fell. Walmart’s video may be able to help you prove that no one was in the area for 15 minutes before you fell.
Let’s suppose that you slip and fall on a piece of fruit at Walmart. If after you fell, you noticed that the piece of fruit was rotting, this should be enough evidence to get your case to a jury. Most cases against Walmart settle before trial, but you should always prepare your case as if it is going to trial.
Claims Management Inc. (d.b.a. “Arkansas Claims Management, Inc.” in some locations) is the casualty claims administrator for Walmart Stores, Inc. and its insurance carriers.
You should notify Walmart of your personal injury claim by sending a certified (return receipt requested) letter to both of the addresses below:
Claims Management Inc.
PO Box 1288
Bentonville, AR 72716-1288
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716-8611
I had some difficulty finding the fax numbers for Walmart stores online. So rather than having to call each Walmart and ask them for their fax number, below are the fax numbers for a couple of Walmart stores in Florida that I currently have slip and fall claims against for injured client whom I represent:
300 W Copans Rd Tba 1517
Pompano Beach, FL 33064
Store phone (954) 784-0220
Fax (954) 788-9498
1619 Del Prado Blvd S
Cape Coral, FL 33990
You should use the above fax numbers at your own risk. This is a sample letter, notifying Walmart of your injury claim and requesting that they preserve store surveillance video and other evidence. This letter can also be used if you were injured at any business (whether a restaurant, hotel, store, shopping mall, gas station, theme park, etc.) or on a cruise ship. On 9/16/13, I called Claims Management and was put on a 30 minute hold an eventually hung up. I wonder if Walmart’s strategy is to make the claims process so stressful that the injured shopper eventually gives up. But thankfully mail and fax exist which is what I often use for communication.
You should also send a certified mail return receipt letter to the actual store where you fell. The purpose of this letter is so that Walmart can open up a claim for you and preserve any evidence that may help you prove your case. When the claims adjuster from Walmart calls you, do NOT give a recorded statement. You are not required to give a statement. You do not benefit by giving a recorded statement. It can only hurt you.
I would not even give an unrecorded statement until you have a seen the video of the incident and you are completely finished getting all the medical treatment that you need. I get many calls from people who slip and fall and are injured at Walmart. Sometimes people tell me that they have already given a recorded statement to the claims adjuster. My response is that you are putting yourself at a big disadvantage.
Please do not believe that because the claims adjuster is friendly that this means that they will pay you to settle your case. Unless you have handled a lot of slip and fall cases, dealing with a claims adjuster on your own (without an attorney) is like playing Lebron James in basketball. You are sure to lose. You are going up against a Walmart claims adjuster who probably has been an adjuster for many years and is seasoned at getting statements from shoppers who are injured at Walmart.
They may ask you a question that seems like it is not important to you but your answer, especially if you give a recorded statement, can kill your case. And you won’t even know that your case has been lost after you get off the phone with the claims adjuster. You may think that you are on great terms and Walmart will gladly take care of your claim. Even if Walmart asks for your medical bills or proof of your lost wages, this does not mean that they are going to pay them.
Although the standard letter that I send Walmart requests its insurance information, in most cases with Walmart you should not be overly concerned about its insurer because it is self-insured for a large amount. In the more serious cases (multiple surgeries, brain injuries, etc.), there may be multiple layers of liability insurance coverage.
If Walmart asks you to preserve (keep) the shoes that you were wearing at the time of the accident, you should do so. Keep them in a box in your closet and do not wear them again until an agreement is settled. Walmart may try to prove that you were partially at fault because your shoes or sandals did not have any traction on them.
Unlike some smaller stores, I do not believe Walmart has “Medical Payments” coverage. “Medical payments” coverage would cover your medical bills up to certain amount regardless of fault.
Slip and Falls Caused by a Leaking Refrigerator
If you slipped and fell on water from a refrigerator, water fountain, soda or beverage machine, ice machine or freezer, then you still have to prove that Walmart knew or should have known that the refrigerator was leaking before you fell. Unless an Walmart employee tells you that the machine (refrigerator, freezer, etc.) was leaking before you slipped and fell, then you generally will have no idea whether Walmart knew or should have known that the refrigerator or freezer was leaking before your fall.
So, if you slip and fall on water that was leaking from a refrigerator or other machine, then once you are able, you should take pictures of the refrigerator or machine that you believe caused your fall. The machine may be rusty, which may prove that they machine was old and should have been replaced before your accident. If your injuries are serious, then you may need to file a lawsuit to get a reasonable settlement in your case.
If you sue Walmart, then you can ask them to show you all the maintenance records (of the leaking refrigerator, freezer or machine that caused your fall) for the 2 years before your fall. The maintenance records of the refrigerator, freezer or machine may show that it was leaking a few weeks or months before your fall. If this was the case, even if Walmart fixed it a month or so before your fall, then you can argue that Walmart should have put something in front of the freezer (that would absorb water) before your fall.
You may be able to get the records of the maintenance company who repaired the refrigerator before you fall. Maybe the maintenance company recommended that Walmart purchase a new refrigerator instead of fixing it. You may also argue that if Walmart bought a new machine before your fall, then you would not have been injured.
I have seen (in Publix Supermarket) a whole bunch of paper towels in front of the refrigerator containing milk. If there were paper towels in front of a refrigerator where you slipped and fell on water in Walmart, then you could argue that the Walmart knew the refrigerator was leaking before you fell. You could argue that only a Walmart employee would have placed paper towels in front of the cooler. However, if there is a warning (caution) sign that you should have seen before you fell, then this may hurt your personal injury case. As in any slip and fall case, the video may show how long the refrigerator, freezer or other cooler was leaking before your fall.
2. Truck Accidents.
If you were in a car and you were hit by a Walmart truck in Florida, in most cases you have to prove that your injuries are permanent in order to get money for pain and suffering. If you are on a motorcycle when you were hit, you do not have to prove that you have a permanent injury in order to get money for pain and suffering. If a Walmart truck hits you, you can get your related medical bills and lost wages paid if you can prove that Walmart is at-fault.
If a Walmart truck hit you, you should immediately send Walmart a letter asking it to preserve the event data recorder (black box) and all the driving logs along with other information. This information can help you prove that the Walmart truck driver was driving too many hours and may have been sleep deprived. Trucking regulations are very strict in the United States.
You should assume that Walmart might send a crash response team at the accident scene to gather evidence as soon as possible following the accident. If it was a serious truck accident, you should have an accident reconstruction expert out to the scene immediately following the accident.
Be sure to take pictures of any vehicles involved in the crash. Get the names and contact information of all witnesses to the accident. Even if you received a ticket for causing the crash, this does not mean that you do not have a case against Walmart. You could still be entitled to a settlement for the car accident.
3. Falling Objects
If you are injured by an item that falls from a shelve and hits you, Walmart may be at fault and have to pay for your damages. Whether Walmart is at fault for the accident depends upon whether what you were doing at the time you were struck was reasonable. If you were reaching for an object that was within reach and it fell, this helps your case. If you were standing on your “tippy toes” or jumping to get something on the shelve, this hurts your case.
You can be certain that Walmart will argue that you should have known that the object was loose and was going to fall. Walmart may say that you should have asked for help instead of trying to grab the item without assistance that was high on the shelf. If Walmart is correct, the value of your personal injury case will be reduced by your negligence (fault).
4. Walmart Employee Injures You
If you are walking in Walmart and you are injured by an employee, you may have a personal injury case against Walmart. The most common ways that a Walmart employee can injured you are as follows:
- An employee rolls or pushes a pallet jack over your foot or into you.
- An employee pushes a cart into you.
- An employee walks into you.
- An employee drops a heavy object on you.
If are injured by a Walmart employee in one of the above ways, you may have a case against Walmart. This means that Walmart may be responsible to pay for your damages (medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering). Walmart will probably argue that you were not looking where you were going and that your damages should be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you or your children are running through Walmart, and an employee walks into you or your children, you have a more difficult case than if you were standing still or walking at a reasonable speed.
If your child is injured and he or she is under the age of six, then Walmart generally cannot place fault on your child. But you would still need to show that a Walmart employee was careless and this caused your child’s injuries.
5. Trip and falls.
If you are walking in a Walmart parking lot or on the sidewalk and trip over an uneven sidewalk or pothole, you may have a case against Walmart. Walmart will argue that you should have been looking where you were going. In most of these types of trip and fall cases, you should be able to prove that Walmart should have known of the dangerous condition because uneven sidewalks and potholes do not happen over night.
Other trip at falls at Walmart may be caused by the following:
- a bunched up runner rug or other rug or mat
- a stocking cart that you trip over
- a box or container
- a display sign that has fallen to the ground
If you tripped and fell on one of these things, then you still need to show that Walmart knew or should have known that the object (thing) that caused you to trip was on the floor before you fell. If you trip over a stocking cart that was moved close to you without warning by a store employee, then it is easy to prove that Walmart knew that it was there because you can infer that only an employee would have been able to have access to the stocking cart.
If you trip and fall on a bunched up (raised) rug or carpet, then you have to prove that Walmart knew or should have known that it was there before you fell. You could argue that Walmart should have known that the rug was “bunched” by arguing that it should have been secured to the floor. Walmart will most likely argue that they had no notice that the rug was sticking up. Similar to all cases against Walmart, store surveillance may be a great help in proving that Walmart knew or should have known that the thing that you tripped over was there before you fell. Ask Walmart immediately in writing to same video for the entire day of the incident, not just the video that shows your trip and fall.
6. Injured by a Crime on Walmart Property.
Walmart has a duty (obligation) to make its property safe. If you are injured by a crime (a shooting, rape, murder, etc.) inside or outside of a Walmart, you may have a case against both the Walmart and the company that manages or owns the shopping center.
7. Settlement and Verdicts With Walmart.
Actual case (not my case): $23,000 Settlement for Pain and Suffering for a bulging disc from a slip and fall at Walmart Stores in Palm Beach County, Florida. A 39 year-old shopper claimed that she suffered a bulging disc in her lower back (L4-L5) when she slipped and fell on water in the frozen foods aisle. She claimed that the bulging disc radiated pain to her thigh and that she had neck pain (a cervical strain). The total verdict was for $251,213. Of that amount, $101,213 was for past medical bills, $127,000 for future medical bills and $23,000 was for pain and suffering. The case is Carpineto v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the verdict was in 2008 and the accident happened in 2006.
My thoughts: The fact that the jury awarded $101,213 in past medical bills for two years of treatment leads to believe that the shopper had surgery to her lower back. However, I am not certain that she had surgery. If she did have lower back surgery, $23,000 is below the typical settlement value for pain and suffering for a lower back surgery caused by an accident in Florida.
Actual case (not my case): $800,000 Verdict in 2013 for pain and suffering for a 40 year-old-man who slipped and fell on a sign while shopping in a Walmart store in Port St. Lucie (St. Lucie County, Florida). He had a torn tendon in his bicep, which resulted in three surgeries and “Popeye Deformity” which causes unusual bulges. He had depression and anxiety. $350,000 was for past pain and suffering and $400,000 was for future pain and suffering. He was a beverage distributor. He slipped on a Gatorade sign that had fallen to the floor. The fall was caught on video. Walmart blamed Gatorade for giving it inexpensive plastic screws.
During trial, a Gatorade employee said that if Wal-Mart employees had properly assembled the sign, it wouldn’t have fallen. Gatorade testified that if the screws came loose or had broken, Wal-Mart had the responsibility to deal with it. The jury stated that Wal-Mart was 90% negligent and the shopper was 10% at fault. Online articles said that the jury awarded twice as much as his attorney asked for. He also made a claim for lost past wages and future wages totaling $186,337.12, and $300,807 in past and future medical expenses. The accident happened in 2011.
My thoughts: I saw pictures online of the alleged scars to the shopper’s upper arm (bicep) and the scars are horrible. The amount of pain and suffering that was awarded is large, but the shopper did have three surgeries. This verdict shows that stores, such as Walmart, may be responsible even if it they try to blame the company (Gatorade in this case) who gave them the sign. This verdict also shows that juries will sometimes award twice as much as you ask for.
8. Settlement Value of Your Injury Case Against Walmart.
The settlement values that I give below are for the pain and suffering component only of an injury case against Walmart and do not apply to workers compensation cases. The value only applies to cases in Florida. There is no guarantee that you get these amounts. There are so many factors that affect the value of your injury case against Walmart. Therefore, you should just use these figures as a starting point. Keep in mind that you also may be entitled to get your medical bills and lost wages paid in addition to money for pain and suffering.
- Broken or Fractured Ankle Settlement Value in Florida : $25,000 to $50,000
- Torn Ligament in Ankle Requiring Surgery: $25,000 to $50,000
- Broken or Fractured Wrist/Hand Settlement Value in Florida : $35,000 to $70,000
- Herniated Disc Settlement Value in Florida : $25,000 to $50,000
- Bulging Disc Settlement Value in Florida : $10,000 to $15,000
- Compression fracture (in the spine): $15,000 to $100,000+
- Rotator cuff (no surgery) Settlement Value in Florida: $40,000 – $75,000, possibly higher
- Rotator cuff (surgery) settlement Value in Florida: $100,000 – $175,000
- Torn Labrum (no surgery): $40,000 to $75,000
- Torn Meniscus: $20,000 to $30,000
- Meniscus (surgery): $40,000 to $80,000
- Patella fracture (no surgery): $50,000 to $75,000
- Total Knee Replacement: $100,000 to $200,000
- Tibia fracture (no surgery): $35,000 to $75,000
- Amputation (below the knee): $500,000 to $750,000
- Humerus fracture on a child (no surgery): $25,000 to $50,000
- Humerus fractured on a adult (no surgery): $30,000 to $60,000
- Femur/Thigh bone (fracture/break) with surgery (ORIF) Settlement Value: $250,000 to $500,000
9. Employee Accidents (Workers Compensation).
The Good News: If you were injured while working for Walmart in Florida, then you do have rights! The nice thing about a workers compensation case against Walmart is that you do not have to prove that they were at fault for your incident in order to get medical treatment and some of your lost wages paid. So long as you can show that you were injured while you were working you should be entitled to workers compensation benefits. This is usually done by reporting your injury to your supervisor or the store manager.
You should request an incident report in writing in case Walmart later says that they did not receive notice of your injury. Workers compensation (through Walmart) should pay for your medical treatment and 66 2/3% of your lost wages. Walmart will choose the doctors who will treat you. You may also be awarded a lump sum (money) to settle your workers compensation case.
The Bad News: If you were injured while working for Walmart in Florida, then in most cases Walmart does not owe you money for pain and suffering. Now if you were injured while working for Walmart, and a third-party (someone who is not a Walmart employee) caused your injuries, then you may be able to make a claim for damages (pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages) against the person or company who caused your accident or incident. In this scenario, in Florida, Walmart would have a right to recover some of the money that it paid for your medical bills and lost wages if you are able to settle with the third-party company or insurance company (of the person who caused your accident).
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I want to represent you (as co-counsel) against Walmart if you were injured while working at Walmart in Florida. If Walmart caused your accident, I want to represent you. I am an injury lawyer in Miami, Florida. I accept accident cases against Walmart and other companies in every county and city in Florida, including but not limited to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hialeah, Homestead, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa.
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