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Florida Walmart Slip and Fall Question – Expert Advice from a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

February 21, 2010

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

Question:

I fell in the parking lot at Wal-mart. I was crossing over the median of the parking lot. As I stepped down off the curb, I fell. It was raining that night and there were puddles. I didn’t notice the pavement near the curb was cracked and sunken as the puddle covered it. I felt something snap in my left foot and some minor burning in my right knee. I tried to get up and I couldn’t put any weight on my left foot. My boyfriend and a person driving by stopped and helped me up and back to my car. My boyfriend went in to the service desk to notify the manager of the incident. One employee came out at first, then the manager came out and helped me into a wheel chair. He took me in to the store to sign some papers and told me to call the number at the bottom of the page the next day. The manager also stated he was going to take pictures of my foot, but didn’t. By time I got into the store, it was purple and pretty swollen. I took pictures of my foot at the hospital. I was told at the hospital that I needed to go see a specialist and was to make an appointment on that following Monday. Also I was not to put any weight on my left foot.

I tried calling the number the store Manager told me to call, but to no avail – they were out until Monday morning. I called back on Monday. I was asked for the claim number and store number that was supposed to be on the paper the store manager had given me, but there was no claim # or store #, so I had to call the store to get the store number. I was told they needed my statement for them to investigate, but the lady I spoke to told me that someone else would be contacting me back to take my statement. I asked about what I needed to do about the hospital bill and the specialist I’m suppose to go see. I was told to take from my pocket or my insurance and they would reimburse me when they were done investigating if they sided with me. I have no insurance and the cost of the doctor that the hospital referred me to is too costly for me to pay out of pocket.

What can I do about this?

My foot is still swollen, I can’t bend my big toe, and pain is shooting up the back of my leg. I’m on crutches and have a brace on my shin to the bottom of my foot. Since being on crutches, my hip is hurting and so is my back.

Answer:
I can try to provide you with some helpful information about your fall, but please consult with an attorney in your area to determine whether you have a valid claim.  Your email does not indicate where you live.  I am a Florida personal injury lawyer specializing in serious accidents such as car accident, trip and falls, and work accidents.  Laws vary from state to state so the law in your area may be different that in Florida.

What happened to you is a fairly common occurrence – tripping over uneven, sunken or broken pavement in a paved parking lot.  I currently represent several people that have similar claims, either in a parking lot or on a sidewalk.  Keep in mind that in Florida, a person or company is not automatically responsible for your injuries and medical bills just because you tripped and fell on on their property.  A property owner in Florida owes two duties to persons legally on the property – 1. to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and 2. to warn people of dangerous conditions that are not obvious or apparent.

Wal Mart, or the person or entity that owns and/or maintains the parking lot may be responsible to you for your injuries and medical bills if the condition that caused you to fall was one that they knew about, or existed for a long enough period of time that they should have known about it. Uneven, sunken or cracked pavement is a condition that usually occurs over time, either due to erosion, tree roots growing nearby, or just wear and tear, so it is more than likely that Wal Mart knew or should have known about this dangerous condition.

The best advice I can give you is to speak with an attorney specializing in trip and fall injury accidents in your area to see whether you should pursue a claim.  An experienced trip and fall lawyer is going to know the laws in your area and how best to proceed.  Most slip and fall lawyers handle cases on a contingent basis which means if the lawyer does not recover any money for your claim, there is no charge for costs or attorney’s fees.  Most Florida personal injury lawyers will also offer a free, no-obligation consultation, so you have nothing to lose by meeting to discuss your claim.

Walmart’s reaction to your claim is not unusual.  Keep in mind that Walmart has hundreds of very large stores in which thousands of shoppers go in and out of every day.  Walmart’s employees deal with accidents like your every day.  Walmart has a very detailed and specific employee handbook on how to deal with claims like yours.  It is a pretty routine procedure for their employees. However, you should speak with an accident injury lawyer before you give a statement to Wal Mart.

Most attorneys that do these type of accident injury cases have handled cases against Wal Mart before.  Experienced accident injury lawyers know that Wal Mart claims are handled out of Bentonville, AK by inhouse adjusters.  As I mentioned above, Wal Mart has a very lengthy employee handbook for how their employees are to handle incidents such as yours.  If you want to contact Wal Mart yourself, you need to call them in Arkansas 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.

For more information, call Florida personal injury lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at mauslawfirm.com or email him today.

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