Nixa Woman Received Confidential Settlement for Falling at Walmart

Walmart recently agreed to settle a Nixa, Missouri woman’s claim for a confidential amount, as a result of her fall over a blown over price display.  The injured woman fractured her hip requiring surgery, and following surgery she developed a nerve injury to  her right upper leg known as Meralgia Paresthetica. 

She ultimately required the implantation of a device called a spinal cord stimulator to help mask the pain signals sent from the nerve injury to her brain.  Walmart in Court documents originally denied any responsibility for the woman’s fall, and claimed the woman’s “damages are relatively small.” 

However, after the woman’s attorneys discovered violations of Walmart’s own internal safety rules and prior similar falls at other Walmart Stores, Walmart admitted full responsibility, and agreed to settle the woman’s claim for a confidential sum. 

Unfortunately, Walmart’s initial refusal to take responsibility in this woman’s case is not unusual.  Walmart is the largest retailer in the United States.  According to Walmart’s website, there are over 5,000 individual Walmart locations in the United States alone.  Walmart aggressively defends any and all claims. 

If you have been injured at Walmart there are a few things you must know. 

PS. For questions related specifically to falling and tripping, click here: Understanding Trip & Falls.

Walmart Only Cares About “Winning” Which Means You “Lose”

Walmart employees are not your friend, from the moment your fall is reported Walmart is trying to build a case to deny your potential claim.  Don’t be fooled into believing Walmart or any of its employees are on your side – they are not.  In fact, Walmart’s internal documents prohibit Walmart employees from giving “statements admitting fault or promis[ing] anything.” 

In other words, no matter what happened Walmart prohibits its employees from doing the right thing and taking responsibility or promising to fairly compensate you for your injuries.  Do not be fooled if a Walmart employee suggests that Walmart will take care of your medical bills – they very likely will not voluntarily pay a dime.    

Instead of taking responsibility, the purpose of the Walmart employees reporting your fall is to begin the process of building a case to deny your claim.  Walmart knows that this initial fact gathering process is important to their ability to successfully deny your claim – Walmart’s own internal Customer Accident Investigation rules inform employees that “[m]ost litigated claims are lost because of errors that happen within the first 24 hours following a customer accident.”  Within the first 24 hours of your fall, Walmart is already focused on either “winning” or “losing” your claim.  In order for Walmart to “win,” you must “lose.” 

To help Walmart “win” the claim, its employees are required to “carefully observe” the area of the fall.  Employees must document “the type of shoes worn” and the “sole of the shoes.”  Employees are also instructed to document “how the customer was sitting or lying on the floor” and “the demeanor of the injured customer.”  Walmart also wants to be told “if the customer claims a slip/fall on a clear liquid, observe items in the cart to look for the origin of the spill…”  Walmart is already trying to build a case that you were not wearing the right shoes, or you caused the slip due to products in your own shopping cart. 

From the moment you fall in Walmart, the sole focus of Walmart is to make sure you “lose” and it “wins.”  You need the right legal team to make sure you do not “lose.”

Walmart’s Claims Management Inc. “CMI” is Not Independent

          Within 24 hours of your reported fall, you will likely receive a call from Claims Management Inc. or “CMI.”  A CMI representative will introduce themselves, and likely tell you that CMI is in charge of investigating your fall.  Don’t be fooled by CMI – they are Walmart, and their goal is to make sure Walmart “wins” and you “lose.”  CMI adjusters are pushy, and they will try to get you to give a recorded statement.  NEVER GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT UNTIL YOU TALK WITH AN ATTORNEY. 

             Most CMI adjusters have been investigating claims on behalf of Walmart for decades.  They know how to ask confusing questions to get you to say things that could be twisted to hurt your claim.  Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you.  CMI is only worried about gathering enough information for Walmart to deny your claim. 

             Some CMI adjusters will imply that they will pay your medical bills, but first you have to provide a recorded statement – STOP.  That is a trap.  Remember, neither CMI nor Walmart are interested in paying your medical bills – they only care about “winning.”  If CMI offers anything, it will likely be an extremely low amount in hopes that you accept the first low-ball offer.  Providing a recorded statement does not ensure CMI will pay your hospital bills, in fact, it will likely result in a complete denial of your claim.   

             Other CMI adjusters will tell you that Walmart or CMI have a right to your recorded statement or they will “close your claim” if you don’t agree to give a statement.  This is another trap.  Neither CMI nor Walmart have a legal right to your recorded statement.  Also, there is no legal significance to CMI’s threat to “close your file.”  This is simply a scare tactic to get you to give a recorded statement. 

             Walmart has a team of experienced adjuster that are investigating your claim with the sole focus of making sure you “lose” and Walmart “wins.”  You need the right legal team on your side to make sure you do not “lose.”

Walmart Will Not Tell You About Other Similar Falls

           If you do not accept Walmart’s initial low-ball offer, they will try to make you feel like this fall is all your fault, and you are the first person to have fallen in this way.  This is likely a flat out lie.  It is very likely others have fallen in almost the exact same way you fell, and that Walmart is well aware of this type of hazard.  This is important evidence in your case, and Walmart knows it.  Courts generally allow evidence of other falls at trial.  This evidence is admissible to show that Walmart knew there was a safety issue, but likely did nothing to prevent future falls. 

             Walmart’s own internal safety documents require that “[w]hen accidents occur, it is important we take the time to identify the root cause of the accident so we can prevent the same or similar types of accidents from happening.”  However, this is almost never the case.  Instead, most claims are denied, and the facts surrounding those claims are swept under the rug.  Walmart and CMI are banking on people dropping their denied claims so that the extent of their cover-up is never exposed. 

Below are just a few examples of safety hazards at Walmart that frequently reoccur:

  • Injuries due to water on the floor;
  • Injuries due to spilled product on the floor;
  • Injuries due to unmarked pallets on the floor;
  • Injuries due to crumpled or overused rugs/floor mats;
  • Injuries due to unsecured display items;
  • Injuries due to potholes or cracked cement/concrete/asphalt;
  • Injuries due to improperly cleared parking lots in times of snow or ice; and 
  • Injuries due to falling merchandise.

The law requires Walmart to learn from its past falls, and fix the dangerous conditions that continue to reoccur at its stores.  Walmart maintains a database of every reported fall at every Walmart store in the USA.  Information regarding prior falls is readily available, but Walmart will not provide this information short of a lawsuit. 

             Evidence that Walmart has knowledge of prior falls or injuries similar to your fall is critical evidence.  You need the right legal team that knows how to get this information from Walmart. 

Walmart Will Not Tell You About Their Safety Rules

               Walmart has thousands of pages of safety rules their store employees are required to comply with to ensure that falls do not occur that their stores.  When these internal safety rules are violated, Walmart is legally responsible for the harm caused by those safety rule violations.  However, Walmart will not tell you about their safety rules. 

             While Walmart has pages and pages of written safety rules, these rules are almost never enforced.  Even when an injury occurs to a customer, there is almost never any action taken to enforce the safety rules.  This is why injuries at Walmart continue to reoccur due to the same safety hazards repeatedly. 

             For instance, if you fell over a pallet on the sales floor, Walmart will likely blame you for failing to see the pallet in the first place.  It is unlikely Walmart will mention that they have a safety rule that prohibits “pallets on the floor between 8:00am and 9:00pm.”  Walmart hopes that you will accept their denial, and they can “win” another claim. 

It takes a legal team familiar with Walmart’s internal safety rules to review your case to see if an internal safety rule was violated. 

A Quick Settlement is Almost Never in Your Best Interest

If Walmart or CMI makes a low initial offer to settle your case, that offer is probably not in your best interests.  Remember, Walmart’s ultimate goal isn’t fair compensation, but instead to “win” at all costs. 

The only reason Walmart will make a quick settlement offer is in hopes you will take it, and excuse Walmart from any other liability if your injuries worsen or if more treatment is needed in the future.  Most people who accept Walmart’s initial offer (if any) are often disappointed later when they realize Walmart is no longer liable for any future medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc. 

Do not accept Walmart’s initial offer without first speaking with a legal team that has experience taking on Walmart.