Claims against Walmart, Publix, Target, Home Depot and all the other Large Box Retail Stores
When you're out shopping inside your local Walmart or in any other store, the last thing that is probably on your mind is worrying about whether you are going to get injured while you're doing your shopping. But statistics show, and the Trial Pro team confirms, that all too often that is exactly what happens and in most of these cases, these injuries and the incidents that caused them could have been avoided had the store's management or employees been properly trained or properly performing their jobs.
These types of cases fall within the broad description of Premises Liability claims and include both slip and trip and fall incidents, falling merchandise incidents and many other types as well. Also, it bears mentioning that in many such cases, the person who either slips or trips while inside or outside the store does not actually fall all the way to the ground but nevertheless is injured, oftentimes seriously, as a result of twisting or wrenching his/her back, knee or other body part as a result of doing everything he/she can to keep from falling to the ground.
Many times, after we are retained or contacted by clients or prospective clients, when we ask them very specific questions about what they observed both before and after the incident occurred, the response we get is, " I can't tell you, I was so embarrassed by what happened that once I was finally able to get up off of the ground I immediately left the store." While understandable, this is the wrong thing to do.
We suggest you look around you, and up and down, to see what it was that caused you to slip, or trip, or what it was that fell on you. If you see some type of dirt, liquid or moisture, or some other substance (in our experience this frequently includes a product or portion of a product that is sold by the store) on the floor that you believe was the cause of you slipping or tripping, if at all possible take multiple photographs from multiple angles of this substance or product in order to document the condition of the floor at the time of your incident. This condition will change with the passage of time, and will be cleaned up by store employees once they learn of your incident, so failure to promptly photograph it may make it difficult to later prove it existed. Also, look around to see if there are any type of warning signs out that warn of a wet or slippery floor in this area. Failure to Warn of a dangerous ( slippery) condition is a valid legal claim in many instances so it is important to note whether there were any type of warning signs and if so, were they located at or near the area where you fell or somewhere else. Another thing to look for is whether there are any store employees working nearby who may be stocking the type of product that actually caused your slip and fall ( many times employees drop product on the ground or it falls out of their cart while they are stocking) or who may have been in a position to note that there was a potentially dangerous condition present on the floor or shelves but yet they failed to see it, correct it, or warn of it.
Finally, if yours is a slipping incident, take note of whether there are any track marks going through the slippery substance that might suggest other people had walked or pushed their shopping cart through this substance before you stepped in it and slipped and hurt yourself. Also, is there any dirt or debris in/around the slippery substance? Florida law generally requires you to prove that the substance was either negligently put on the ground by the store's employees( i.e. product fell out of an employee's hand or cart while stocking) OR that the slippery or dangerous condition had been present long enough that the store knew or "should have known" that the dangerous condition existed but yet failed to promptly notice it, clean it up or warn of it. The presence of track marks going through the slippery substance, or dirt or debris being around it, suggests it had existed for awhile so this is helpful evidence. If you see these things, try to photograph it.
Finally, if you have the misfortune to be involved in any type of incident on the premises of a store, shopping center, etc., promptly report it to store management or a store employee and be sure to fill out an Incident Report right then if at all possible. Obtain a copy of that report before you leave the store, write down names and contact info of any witnesses ( including other customers or any store employees who saw it, who you reported it to, spoke to, etc.), and note the date and time of your incident. Failure to document your incident may result in the store later taking the position that it never occurred.
The final step is to call The Trail Professionals to see whether we may be able to offer you some assistance. We hope you don't experience this type of incident, but if you do you will want experienced legal help that can help you get answers to your questions and treatment for your injuries.