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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.

Attorney Answers 6

  1. Consult with a personal injury attorney ASAP

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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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