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Department Store Slip And Fall Case Question – Expert Advice

July 25, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Premises Liability Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet

Subject: Slip and fall case

Question:  I entered a Wal-Mart at North entrance, chose a shopping cart and started pushing cart to the automotive dept.  I started searching the aisles for hand cleaner.  I searched several aisles for hand cleaner and could not find any.  I eventually gave up my search and started walking and pushing the cart in front of me down the aisle between the automotive batteries (which are stocked on a very tall metal shelve/rack) and the automotive tires. After walking just past the batteries shelve/rack on my left and tires on my right, I slipped and fell hitting the floor. I had slipped in a water puddle located just south of (right after) the automotive battery rack. The water puddle was formed by water leaking through a hole in the roof. I did not notice the water leaking down through the roof and ceiling due to the battery rack on my left being so tall and I did not see the water on the floor because it was clear with no coloring. I also did not hear the water hitting the floor from the leak in the roof/ceiling because all I could hear was a heavy rain outside hitting the roof above me.  I laid on the floor for approximately five minutes until a Wal-Mart employee came to my aid. I asked if they could call an ambulance and they did. While laying on the floor, I learned from the Wal-Mart employees, that I had slipped in a large puddle of water created by a leak in the roof. At the time of my slip and fall it was raining very hard outside.

When I slipped and fell, my head was whipped backward. I landed on my right shoulder, my back, right hip, with my right leg and foot twisted up under me and I also landed on my right hand and wrist trying to break my fall. CMI sent me a letter the next day and the case manger gave me a claim number by voice mail, also listed on claim letter. I have been seen by three doctors. I suffered contusions, I now have constant headaches from whiplash and my back, shoulder and hip are in constant pain (I had back surgery three years ago and just recently I became disabled). I immediately started seeing a pain doctor and received six shots to neck, shoulder and back.  I lost my private insurance last year.  My doctor informed me if CMI doesn’t won’t pay the doctor bills, he can’t see me again. CMI says they are not responsible, the roof contractor is responsible for my bills. I need help! I talked to two lawyers and they would not take my case. Please help, what should I do? I am so stressed and confused and in a lot of pain.

Answer: Your email doesn’t indicate in what state you live.  I am an attorney in Florida specializing in personal injury claims such as Florida car accident claims, Florida slip and fall case claims, and Florida workers compensation claims.  If you are in Florida, please give me a call and I can discuss your claim with you in further detail.  However, laws vary from state to state, so I cannot advise you on the laws in your area.

My first suggestion is to speak with an experienced slip and fall case attorney in your area.  Wal Mart will not pay much attention to your claim without an attorney, and any offer they eventually make will not be a very good one. The attorney in your area can advise you on specific laws and time requirements that may apply to your claim, and help you with medical treatment, medical bills, and how best to proceed with a claim against Wal Mart.

An experienced slip and fall case lawyer can also help evaluate the "liability" aspect of your claim.  At least in Florida, stores such as Wal Mart are not responsible for injuries arising out of a slip and fall in their store unless the condition that caused the slip and fall, here a puddle of water, was one that Wal Mart knew existed on the floor, or should have known it existed on the floor, and did not take reasonable measures to clean it up or warn customers of its existence.  There are different ways to show this, and different facts to examine to try and satisfy this burden of proof.  Water on the floor from a leaky roof is usually a good sign that the condition has existed for a sufficient period of time for Wal Mart to correct the leak, or at least warn its shoppers of any puddles that may be in the aisle.

Keep in mind that most slip and fall/personal injury attorneys handle claims like this on a contingent basis.  If there is no recovery, you do not owe an attorney’s fee.  Also, most attorneys offer a free initial consultation, so you have nothing to lose in getting an expert opinion from a lawyer in your area.

Lastly, most experienced Florida slip and fall case lawyers that do this type of work have handled cases against Wal Mart before.  I would imagine this holds true for other states as Wal Mart stores are everywhere.  Wal Mart handles thousands of claims on a daily basis.  An attorney will know that Wal Mart claims are handled out of Bentonville, AK by inhouse adjustors.  To speed up the process of hearing from Wal Mart, you need to call them in AK and find the claim #, and the name of the adjustor assigned to handling the case. BUT – if you’re considering getting an attorney, I would do it before you speak to Wal Mart.

Additionally, some Wal Mart stores carry "medical payments" coverage.  Thisis insurance that will reimburse you for out of pocket medical expenses.  I have had claims in Florida with Wal Mart where one store has "medpay" and another store down the street does not.  You need to get Wal Mart’s insurance information for the specific store to find out whether you may be reimbursed through medpay.

For more information about a slip and fall case, contact Florida premises liability lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.jmmlawyers.com, or email him today.

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