Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere – in your home, at work, or even on the sidewalk, and millions of people seek emergency medical attention due to slips, trips, and falls each year. One particularly common location for slip and falls is retail establishments, especially large stores. These can include grocery stores, “big box” stores like Walmart, warehouse stores, and similar places. Most people shop at these establishments on a regular basis but may not appreciate the risks of a slip and fall accident until they sustain serious injuries. Holding a store liable for your slip and fall injuries can be challenging, and you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia slip and fall attorney as soon as possible.
Hazards in Large Stores
Large retail establishments have many aisles of varying merchandise, and there are many places for hazards to exist. Some hazards that may cause slips or trips include:
- Spilled liquid or foodstuffs
- Merchandise or debris on the ground
- Obstacles protruding into walkways
- Electrical cords that are not secured to the wall
- Wet floors
- Slippery flooring materials
- Inadequate lighting
Store employees should always regularly inspect the premises and address any possible hazards as quickly as possible. If a hazard cannot be eliminated right away, the store should provide clear warnings to customers, such as a “wet floor” sign.
Businesses such as large retailers have the legal duty to keep the premises safe for customers. When a business fails to do so and someone suffers injuries in a fall, the negligent company should be held liable for all of the accident victim’s losses. Such losses can include medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
While slip and falls are often considered to be relatively minor accidents, you would be surprised how serious the resulting injuries can be. This is especially true for older adults, who may break a hip and require surgery. Other injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Soft tissue injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injury
All of these injuries can require extensive medical treatment and may have lasting effects that can keep you from working, resulting in lost wages. Because the losses from slip and fall injuries can add up quickly, you should understand your legal right to seek compensation.
Protecting Your Rights after a Slip and Fall in a Philadelphia Store
If you have injured in a slip and fall accident that occurred in a store, there are certain steps you should take in order to protect your legal rights. The most important of these include the following:
- Make sure that you report the incident to the store’s management and that an official incident report is generated.
- See your physician and request a full medical evaluation. You should do this even if you think that your injuries aren’t severe enough to justify medical treatment or that they will get better on your own. Insurance companies want to see evidence of your injuries, and without a medical record, it can be extremely difficult to recover compensation.
- Stay off of social media. Insurance adjusters have been known to check victims’ online accounts in order to find evidence that their injuries are not as serious as they are claiming. Posts that indicate that you’re engaging in physical activity or even hanging out with friends could potentially be used to reduce your settlement offer.
- Retain an attorney as soon as you can. While Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations on injury claims is two years, waiting to start an investigation can result in the loss or destruction of evidence that is critical to the success of your case. In addition, the representation of a lawyer will ensure that you do not say anything to the insurance company that can justify reducing their settlement offer. Finally, giving your lawyer as much time as possible to prepare your case will maximize your chances of successfully recovering compensation.
Insurance Claims after a Slip and Fall at a Store
The first step in seeking payment for your losses is generally to file an insurance claim. Every business should have proper insurance coverage in case customers get hurt on the property. The insurance process can be complicated, however, as most insurers will work hard to limit liability and payouts.
Walmart is known for being particularly difficult when it comes to injury claims. Walmart has an entire company that is solely dedicated to handling insurance claims for the store. You will be dealing with Claims Management, Inc. (CMI), which is the third party administrator for claims stemming from injuries at Walmart and Sam’s Club. You can be sure that CMI will do anything in its power to limit liability for these stores.
Some common tactics by CMI and other insurance companies include:
- Trying to get you to give a statement on the record, hoping you will say something that can be used against your interests
- Convincing you that you don’t need the help of an attorney
- Promising you that the insurance adjuster is on your side (they are not)
- Challenging the severity of your injuries and the necessity of all of your treatment
- Claiming that you were at fault for the fall
- Challenging the fact that the store was negligent
- Delaying your claim so that you are more eager to agree to a settlement
- Offering you much less than you deserve in hopes that you will unknowingly accept the payment
Once you accept a settlement offer, you cannot later request more once you realize how inadequate the offer was. For this reason, always have our skilled slip and fall lawyer review an offer before you ever sign or accept anything.
Call the Law Office of Joel J. Kofsky Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer
Retail stores owners have a duty to keep their stores in a reasonably safe condition. Unfortunately, they do not always do so, sometimes with devastating results. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law often entitles slip and fall victims to significant compensation for their injuries, including their medical expenses, lost income, lost quality of life, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. To schedule a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney in Philadelphia, all our office today at 215-735-4800 or contact us online.