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I was hurt in a Wal-Mart Slip and Fall. What are my options?

Knoxville, TN |

While walking through electronics, I slipped and fell on a slippery substance encircling a DVD display. There were no signs and the substance wasn't in a puddle and was complete invisible from my perspective. Only from a distance could you see the sheen. My son took pictures and you can barely see it when standing next to it. A manager took my report and sent a custodian to clean it. He said it was some kind of oil and described it as being very slippery. He cleaned it with a mop twice, but when the manager checked, it was still on the floor. He finally had to use a cleaner designed to clean oil to remove it, which took 3 attempts. I now have a severely herniated disc at "T12-L1", stretched tendons and ligaments in my right shoulder, and damaged a pre-existing umbilical hernia.

This happened on September of 2012. I saw two doctors and had 2 MRI's, which showed the damage I mentioned. I obtained and later fired an attorney. On several occasions, I asked him to get the security tapes. He told me it would be "An act of God" to do so. He never contacted the store to speak with the manager or custodian or to attempt to get the security tapes. He said unless I knew where the substance came from I had no case, but he "might" be able to get my doctor bills covered, which are over $10,000. He said because my MRI showed some degenerative conditions as well that I have no claim for the herniated disc. My doctors wrote me out of work for over 5 months. Since then I have re-injured when I tried to go back to work. I have lived in the same home for 4 1/2 years and never was late on my rent. I am now being evicted because I have not been able to pay my rent since being injured. On top of this, I am a single parent with a special needs child.

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Attorney answers 6

Posted

Consult with a personal injury attorney ASAP

Asker

Posted

This happened on September 22nd of 2012. I saw two doctors and had 2 MRI's, which showed the damage I mentioned. I obtained and later fired an attorney. On several occasions, I asked him to get the security tapes. He told me it would be "An act of God" to do so. He never contacted the store to speak with the manager or custodian or to attempt to get the security tapes. He said unless I knew where the substance came from I had no case, but he "might" be able to get my doctor bills covered, which are over $10,000. He said because my MRI showed some degenerative conditions as well that I have no claim for the herniated disc. My doctors wrote me out of work for over 5 months. Since then I have re-injured when I tried to go back to work. I have lived in the same home for 4 1/2 years and never was late on my rent. I am now being evicted because I have not been able to pay my rent since being injured. I had to live on credit cards while I was recovering, so now my credit is destroyed. I am a single parent with a special needs child. This whole ordeal has exacerbated his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the point that he can barely function. Even after I fired this attorney, he sends a letter to Wal-Mart saying he chose to not represent me anymore. I called several other attorneys, but as soon as I mention Wal-Mart, they instantly say they don't have the resources to battle them in court. The statute of limitations is running out and I feel helpless. I've lost everything and I don't know what my next move should be.

David Ian Schoen

David Ian Schoen

Posted

Sorry to hear about your ordeal. It sounds like a viable case to me. You need to find an attorney who is not afraid to try cases if necessary. It sounds like you haven't found one yet. Keep looking. Good luck.

Asker

Posted

Thank you all for your kind and compassionate replies. God has protected and provided for us, so I place my faith in Him. If you know of any good attorneys in the Knoxville TN area, please let me know. Thank you again for your time and attention concerning this matter.

Posted

File a claim with Walmart's insurance company. Follow your doctor's orders for treatment. You have a valid claim from what you have stated here. Do yourself a favor and hire a personal injury lawyer, they can navigate these tricky waters. Slip and fall cases are difficult under the best of circumstances, as you have to prove a defect, AND notice, AND a reasonable amount of time to correct the defect. Keep those pictures too, you are going to need them.

This is general advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Asker

Posted

This happened on September 22nd of 2012. I saw two doctors and had 2 MRI's, which showed the damage I mentioned. I obtained and later fired an attorney. On several occasions, I asked him to get the security tapes. He told me it would be "An act of God" to do so. He never contacted the store to speak with the manager or custodian or to attempt to get the security tapes. He said unless I knew where the substance came from I had no case, but he "might" be able to get my doctor bills covered, which are over $10,000. He said because my MRI showed some degenerative conditions as well that I have no claim for the herniated disc. My doctors wrote me out of work for over 5 months. Since then I have re-injured when I tried to go back to work. I have lived in the same home for 4 1/2 years and never was late on my rent. I am now being evicted because I have not been able to pay my rent since being injured. I had to live on credit cards while I was recovering, so now my credit is destroyed. I am a single parent with a special needs child. This whole ordeal has exacerbated his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the point that he can barely function. Even after I fired this attorney, he sends a letter to Wal-Mart saying he chose to not represent me anymore. I called several other attorneys, but as soon as I mention Wal-Mart, they instantly say they don't have the resources to battle them in court. The statute of limitations is running out and I feel helpless. I've lost everything and I don't know what my next move should be. After firing my attorney, Wal-Mart contacted me via a registered letter advising me they received notification that my attorney was no longer representing me. They told me they would be closing my case if they didn't receive a reply from me in 30 days. I faxed and wrote Wal-Mart sending them a letter from my specialist detailing my injuries and expressing my desire to work out a reasonable settlement with them. They never replied. After I sent the letter, all calls from them stopped as well.

Asker

Posted

The store filed a claim for me with Wal-Mart's insurance company the day after I fell. When I contacted the store the next day, they had the claim information ready and the number to get in touch with their insurance company.

Tanya Marie Bachand

Tanya Marie Bachand

Posted

Walmart is a pain in the butt. But that doesn't mean you don't have a case. It would take an act of god to get those security tapes without litigation, in fact, I've never seen it done without litigation (they turn it over in the discovery phase) but no, you don't have to prove where it came from, just that it was there and they either knew or should have known, and had time to clean it up and didn't. It would seem to me that the injuries are significant enough for an attorney to take a shot at it. I think you did the right thing firing the lawyer, but keep looking for one, because it will not be easy. Walmart fights everything tooth and nail. Keep going, don't give up

Asker

Posted

Thank you all for your kind and compassionate replies. God has protected and provided for us, so I place my faith in Him. If you know of any good attorneys in the Knoxville TN area, please let me know. Thank you again for your time and attention concerning this matter.

Asker

Posted

One further thing I would like to mention: The slick spot was in a semi-circle around the display. It looked identical before and after the custodian mopped it, yet it was still slippery until he used a special oil removing cleaner to clean it. As I spoke with the manager while filling out the accident report, I noticed several of these places around other displays in electronics that night. In fact, the area of the slick spots were nearly identical on the other displays as well. Before I fell as I walked down the aisle to electronics, I noticed a cleaning machine cleaning on the opposite end of the store. Another custodian was following behind him with a mop cleaning up the excess water/cleaner. When I brought this to the manager's attention, she sent the custodian back to clean the other areas as well. My feeling is that the area in which I fell was previously cleaned, which is why there was no puddle. Any liquid that is spilled onto a floor will pool and form a puddle, or at the very least, form droplets of the liquid. In this case, it was not raised at all and appeared to have been cleaned. Since it took the custodian 3 tries to clean it even when he was aware there was a slippery spot, I believe they did the same thing with the original spill. They simply mopped it and left. Unfortunately, the only way to prove this is with the security tape. I only had a limited amount of characters in my initial posting, so I didn't have enough room to fully explain. I hope this helps explain the situation better. I believe this is why Wal-Mart's insurance adjuster sent the registered letter telling me that since I was no longer being represented by an attorney they would be closing my case if I didn't respond within 30 days. I believe this would allow them to dispose of the security tape if I didn't respond, which they know I need. Luckily, I sent a fax and a letter informing them I would be continuing with this claim. Thank you for your time and advice.

Posted

Slip and fall cases in Tennessee are very difficult. Under our law you have to show that Walmart knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and did nothing to correct it or negligently attempted to correct it causing you to fall. That is a difficult hurdle to overcome; to prove that Walmart knew about an oily substance that can hardly be seen when you are near it. My guess is that is why most attorneys are shying away from representing you. Having said that, I do suggest you contact other attorneys in your area to attempt to find someone willing to take the case. Your damages are severe enough that an attorney may be willing to proceed in an attempt to find the liability that is not immediately apparent. Be aware that many lawyers often refuse to take cases that another attorney handled (and were fired) due to the lack of knowledge of what the prior attorney has done correct or incorrect and the possibility that the client is being difficult. You might not want to emphasize that another attorney had the case and was fired. Regardless, you need to move quickly as Tennessee has a one year statute of limitations. This means you have one year from the date of your injury to either settle with Walmart or file suit. Simply filing a claim with their insurance does not stop the clock from running out on you. Good luck.

Nothing in this communication should be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship. I provide this service for educational purposes only. I will take no action on your behalf unless you have hired me and a written retainer agreement is signed. I am licensed only in Tennessee and I strongly suggest you consult with an attorney in your city and state as Statute of Limitation deadlines can limit your recovery.

Asker

Posted

The slick spot was in a semi-circle around the display. It looked identical before and after the custodian mopped it, yet it was still slippery until he used a special oil removing cleaner to clean it. As I spoke with the manager while filling out the accident report, I noticed several of these places around other displays in electronics that night. In fact, the area of the slick spots were nearly identical on the other displays as well. Before I fell as I walked down the aisle to electronics, I noticed a cleaning machine cleaning on the opposite end of the store. Another custodian was following behind him with a mop cleaning up the excess water/cleaner. When I brought this to the manager's attention, she sent the custodian back to clean the other areas as well. My feeling is that the area in which I fell was previously cleaned, which is why there was no puddle. Any liquid that is spilled onto a floor will pool and form a puddle, or at the very least, form droplets of the liquid. In this case, it was not raised at all and appeared to have been cleaned. Since it took the custodian 3 tries to clean it even when he was aware there was a slippery spot, I believe they did the same thing with the original spill. They simply mopped it and left. Unfortunately, the only way to prove this is with the security tape. I only had a limited amount of characters in my initial posting, so I didn't have enough room to fully explain. I hope this helps explain the situation better. Thank you for your time and advice.

Posted

I am sorry to learn of your experience with your former attorney. Perhaps your former attorney did not specialize in personal injury litigation. In any case involving Walmart, you need to be prepared for a battle. That being said, your attorney should have immediately sent a certified letter to Walmart demanding access to the surveillance tapes of the area where you fell and directing them to not destroy or alter them. Once Walmart receives that letter, they are under certain obligations to preserve the tapes. If they destroy or alter them, your attorney can usually get a spoilation jury instruction which would work against Walmart's interests.

I suggest that you immediately search for a new attorney who specializes in personal injury litigation. Be prepared to show your new attorney your photographs and I suggest you get your complete file from your first attorney, as your new attorney will want to review it.

The fact that you had pre-existing arthritis or other ailments is nothing unusual and an experienced personal injury attorney will know how to deal with these issues. I suggest that you not attempt to deal with Walmart on your own, as they will do what they can to extract information harmful to your claim and then will usually deny the claim. You may wish to contact the American Association for Justice and ask them for the names of 2 or 3 members in your area. Attorney members are experienced personal injury litigators . You can locate the American Association for Justice online. Do not delay in seeking new counsel, as nothing is gained by further delay.

Legal Disclaimer:

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

Asker

Posted

I followed your advice and found a great attorney today. He specializes in personal injury and was very compassionate and helpful with my situation. He basically told me the same things you did. He even offered to help with the eviction proceedings. I have an appointment to meet with him on Tuesday of next week. Thank you so much for giving me hope. Even with just a quick review of the facts, he too feels I have a very strong case and feels my previous attorney gave me some very bad advice. Thank you so much for your help.

Lars A. Lundeen

Lars A. Lundeen

Posted

You are welcome. Good Luck with your case. Lars A. Lundeen Lars A. Lundeen, P.C. 98 Merchants Row, 2nd Flr. Rutland, VT 05701 802-773-7638 802-775-1533 (fax) LL57@cornell.edu

Posted

Try to find another lawyer in your state to pick up the ball.

Posted

After obtaining medical treatment in order to get healthy, You need to contact the Wal-Mart store about getting a copy of the Incident Report as well as contact a good premises liability attorney.

I would not recommend dealing with Wal-Mart's insurance adjusters as they will not as truthful with you as they would with an attorney.

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