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Personal Injury Attorney in Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara & Berkeley

Can You Sue Walmart When You've Fallen in Their Store?


Merchants have a duty to make their premises reasonably safe for shoppers, and big-box stores such as Walmart are no exception. However, the mere fact that a patron suffered a fall is not evidence that the merchant is at fault. An injured plaintiff must prove additional elements to recover compensation for a trip and fall or slip and fall.

Under premises liability law, a landlord generally has a duty to discover hidden hazards and correct them to prevent harm to customers. When a shopper’s encounter with a hidden hazard causes a slip and fall, liability is not automatic; the outcome of the case hinges on whether the landlord was reasonable. Let’s examine these issues more closely.

A common reason for a slip and fall accident in a store is a wet substance on the floor. The source of the substance can be anything from a leaky roof to a broken jar of spaghetti sauce. The landlord’s duty is either to provide sufficient warning or to clean up the mess so no one gets hurt. When someone does get hurt, it is because the landlord (or employees) did nothing or what was done was inadequate. In either case, the landlord may still be able to assert that his actions were reasonable and therefore he is not liable. For example:

  • Landlord did nothing, so customer fell — The landlord could present evidence that a third party, such as another customer, knocked a jar of spaghetti sauce onto the floor and just walked away, rather than taking a folding safety cone from the shelf, placing it over the spill and alerting an employee. Because of that customer’s negligence, the store did not have notice of the spill and there was not sufficient time to act before the other customer was injured. The injured shopper could then allege the store was unreasonable because it had an insufficient number of employees on hand to respond to foreseeable incidents like the broken jar of sauce.
  • Landlord responded, but customer fell anyway — Here, the case could turn on the reasonableness of the landlord’s response and contributory negligence by the customer. The landlord might say an employee immediately covered the spill with a bright orange safety cone and went to get a mop. Before the employee returned, the customer had fallen. The landlord was reasonable, but the customer either wasn’t paying attention or decided to assume the risks of an obvious hazard. The customer could point to the inadequacy of the cone, which did not cover the entire spill. The customer could also assert the warning was not adequate because the aisle contained numerous distractions that drew attention away from the cone.

As you can see from these examples, a slip and fall case is not terribly easy to prove. And we haven’t even touched on another essential element: proving the fall caused the injuries. Because of the difficulty proving fault in a slip and fall case, you should consult an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

Crane Flores, LLP is located near three Walmart centers in the Oxnard area, at 2001 N. Rose Ave., 2701 Saviers Rd., and 421 W. Esplanade Dr. If you’ve been injured in one of these stores or any other store, you can rely on us for aggressive representation in slip and fall cases and cases related to falling merchandise. Call us at (805) 628-4967 or contact our offices online to schedule a free consultation.