Nobody wants to get hurt. Sometimes accidents just happen, though, and sometimes they happen because of the negligence of someone else.
When you are injured by the negligence of a party like Walmart, you can at least be glad of one thing: Walmart has what personal injury attorneys like to call “deep pockets,” and they will be able to compensate you for your injuries. As a retail giant, they can handle individual liability claims.
If you have a potential lawsuit against Walmart, you can talk to a personal injury attorney about whether or not it would be worth it to sue so you can recover from all your damages.
You can talk to the store manager, so they know you were injured, but don’t give a recorded statement until you consult with an attorney.
Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A slip and fall attorney can be the difference between getting compensated and paying for all your own bills out of pocket. There are some things an attorney can do that you might not be able to.
Your slip and fall attorney can collect evidence so that you will be able to prove your case. As someone who has dealt with those kinds of cases before, your lawyer will know what kind of evidence to look for and the best way to preserve it in case you have to go to trial.
Your attorney can also help you by dealing with the insurance adjusters. All insurance companies are working for profit, so they try to save money and not pay insurance claims if they don’t have to.
They aren’t looking out for you because they are worried about their own bottom line. Once they know you have an attorney, the insurance adjusters are more likely to be responsive to your needs.
While you might be the one to make sure you get the names of anyone who witnessed your fall, your attorney can talk to your witnesses and prepare them for trial. Your attorney can help get the details about what a dangerous situation it was.
What Kind of Injuries Are Caused By Slipping and Falling?
You could theoretically sustain almost any kind of injury if you fall hard enough, or if you fall wrong. No matter how seriously you are hurt, the negligent party should be responsible for paying for all of the injuries if you were injured through no fault of your own.
Here are some of the kinds of injuries you might suffer if you have a slip and fall accident:
Cuts and Abrasions
These are usually relatively minor injuries but may need some medical treatment, such as stitches. You should recover fully from these kinds of injuries.
These injuries are more serious, and you may suffer anything from a hairline fracture to a compound fracture, where the bone is protruding from the skin.
If you suspect you have a broken bone, don’t wait to go to an emergency medical center so you can get an x-ray.
These could include anything from bruising to swelling, to a total loss of consciousness.
No matter how trivial it may seem, you should always take a head injury seriously. You could have a concussion without realizing it. If you have a traumatic brain injury, it could affect you for the rest of your life.
Spinal Cord Injuries
These are no longer all as serious as they used to be, but they can still cause major long-term problems, including paralysis or death. If you have a spinal cord slip and fall injury, you need to stay in treatment until you are fully recovered in order to prevent even worse injury. This could eventually cost millions of dollars.
Soft Tissue Injuries
You can’t see these type of injuries, but they can affect you just as much as most other kinds of injuries.
When your tendons or ligaments are torn or sprained, you may not realize how serious your injuries are.
Especially right after you fall, you might be feeling that rush of adrenaline that comes with panicking. If you suspect you have soft tissue injuries, go ahead and seek treatment immediately so you don’t get worse.
What Kind of Damages Can You Ask For?
If you fall down and don’t get hurt, it’s embarrassing at worst. You can only sue for damages if there is some real sort of harm you can show that was caused by the other party’s negligence.
In the case of a slip and fall case, there are several kinds of damages you might be able to claim.
If you were hurt because of the fall, you could ask the negligent party to pay you for all of the medical expenses, including the doctor’s fees, hospital stay, crutches, medicine, or anything else that helped you recover from your physical injuries.
Lost Time From Work
Whether or not you have a vacation or sick time at your job, you shouldn’t have to use it up because someone else was negligent. You can ask the responsible party to pay for your lost wages.
Future Loss of Earnings
Do you now have a disability or limited range of motion that will affect your future earnings? You can calculate that as part of your settlement.
Pain and Suffering
You deserve to be compensated for your needless pain and suffering.
Any other expenses you can reasonably claim were caused by the accident.
What Do You Have to Prove to Win a Slip and Fall Case?
Every negligence case is based on the idea that one party had a duty to live up to a certain standard of care and that a failure to do so caused the injury of another party. When it comes to litigation, you have to prove that the other party was liable and that you were injured.
Every case is different, so you will have to look at the circumstances of the situation. If another customer spilled a drink and just walked off and left it, and then you slipped and fell before a Walmart employee could reasonably have come to clean up the wet floor, you may not be able to prove that Walmart Stores Inc was negligent.
On the other hand, if you can prove that spills are common in that area and that the company doesn’t do anything to make sure they are cleaned right away, you should be able to prove negligence.
If a company knows beforehand about a dangerous condition, they are responsible for remedying the situation. Every property owner who invites others to come onto the premises is responsible for guest safety.
Proving liability may also depend on certain local and state laws governing the behavior of businesses. Your personal injury attorney will know which of those laws applies to your case and which circumstances are important to look at.
Would floor mats have helped? Were there many slip and fall incidents in that area? Your attorney can find out.
Again, if you have no damages, you have no lawsuit. You will need to prove that your person and/or property was damaged because of the defendant’s negligence, and you will need to be able to show how much that cost you.
That also means that while you are waiting for your case to come to a conclusion, it is vital that you save every receipt and keep track of every expense you want to claim.
Will You Need to File a Lawsuit?
You don’t want to file a lawsuit if you don’t have to. Going to court is stressful, expensive, and time-consuming. It can take years before a civil lawsuit makes its way through the courts. Unlike criminal cases, there is no speedy trial rule for civil cases.
If you are sure you have a good case for negligence and you can prove damages, you may have to file a lawsuit if the other party refuses to make a reasonable offer of compensation.
Before you even think about filing a lawsuit, you should send a settlement demand letter where you explain what you can prove and make a reasonable offer of settlement.
Wait until you are close to the end of your medical treatment so you have a good idea of how much you are asking for, and go over the letter with an experienced attorney.
One important thing to remember is that you want to write clearly “For Settlement Purposes Only” in the heading of your letter so that the defendant can’t hold the offer against you at a later date.
Filing a lawsuit by yourself takes several steps:
- Gather all your information and research your case.
- Choose the court based on how much you are asking for and where the accident happened.
- Find the correct forms and fill them out.
- Write out the complaint, where you explain your reason for filing a lawsuit.
- Send notice or summons to the other party, so they know to come to court.
- Decide whether you need an attorney in the courtroom.
How Is Preparing With an Attorney Different?
Filing a lawsuit with an attorney is much easier for you. Your first step will always be to meet with your attorney so your attorney knows how to handle your case.
Your attorney will investigate the case and let you know if there is anything else needed. Then your attorney will prepare the demand package and handle the discovery and negotiation phases.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Personal Injury Lawsuit or Go to Trial?
Even if you agree to a slip and fall settlement, it can take a great deal of time to get paid. The settlement check timeline includes time for creating the final documents, endorsing the final agreement in front of a notary, and then waiting for the insurance company to write a check and send it back to your attorney.
Your attorney will make sure any liens are paid, such as for expenses from the accident, and deduct the attorney fees. Finally, you can expect to get your check.
Lawsuits take much longer. Once you have filed a lawsuit, several things will happen. You will go through a discovery phase, where you provide the other side with your evidence and vice versa. During that phase, witnesses may be deposed, and parties may address interrogatories to each other.
The other party may file a request for production where the Court will order you to provide certain evidence or a request for admissions, where you literally have to answer with an affirmative or a negative.
Be very careful during the discovery phase, because there are close time limits, and if you fail to respond in a timely manner, you could lose the entire case.
If your case is going to trial, parties may ask for a seemingly endless number of continuances, and the trial date will be set far into the future. By the time you enter a courtroom, it could be years later.
What Is the Best Way to Choose a Slip and Fall Attorney?
If you have an accident at one of the Walmart stores and feel that you have a case, you should choose an attorney from a firm that has experience with those kinds of cases. Attorneys who deal with personal injury claims typically offer a free consultation, so you should seek out advice as soon as possible.
You only have a limited amount of time to ask for compensation. After two years, if you try to file a lawsuit, the defendant can ask the judge to dismiss it because you waited too long. You have to give the company legal notice that you are seeking damages.
At Skousen, Gulbrandsen, & Patience, we understand that you may have few dealings with the court system, so you may be hesitating before you take the next step. It will cost you nothing if you call and make an appointment so you can get free advice about your case.
We don’t get paid until you do, so you don’t have to worry about paying us while you are also dealing with your medical bills and other expenses. We care about our clients and our community and work to give each client the best care.
If you are a resident of Mesa, Arizona, know that you can count on us to provide competent, aggressive, caring legal service.