Former State's Attorney With Over 38 Years of Experience

Can I Sue if I Slip and Fall at a Walmart in Illinois?

Big-box retail stores make shopping for a wide range of products convenient. They also present numerous risks for slip-and-fall accidents. As one of the world’s largest retail companies, Walmart sees many slip-and-fall accidents and legal claims. The company has over 4,000 stores nationwide, including a Supercenter in Orland Park. They are quite experienced at defending themselves against slip-and-fall injury claims ranging from sprains or broken bones to traumatic brain injuries. If you have suffered injuries in a slip-and-fall accident at a Walmart or other retail store, an Orland Park personal injury lawyer can help you assert a claim for damages. You may file a lawsuit, but a lawyer can help you explore all possible ways to recover compensation.


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What Can Cause a Slip-and-Fall Accident at a Walmart Store?

Big-box retail stores like Walmart can be busy places. Slip-and-fall accidents may result from a lack of maintenance or other dangerous conditions.

Wet Floors

Wet floors are such a common cause of slip-and-fall accidents that “Caution: Wet Floor” signs are readily available at most business supply stores. Hazardous conditions may result from:

  • Spilled drinks or food items;
  • Rain or snow that enters through an open door or window; or
  • Recently mopped or waxed floors without warning signs.

Uneven Floors

Constant foot traffic and regular wear and tear can create hazards in retail stores, such as:

  • Damaged carpeting;
  • Loose floor mats;
  • Uneven floor tiles; or
  • Damaged steps or stairs.

Cluttered Aisles

Merchandise can fall off shelves, or customers might drop items on the floor. Either can create tripping or slipping hazards. A particular risk occurs when the merchandise is difficult to see. For example, an article of clothing on a similarly-colored floor poses a significant risk of someone slipping and falling.

Inadequate Lighting

A failure to provide enough lighting can create risks that would not be present in brighter conditions. This might involve a tripping hazard in a dark area of a store at any hour of the day. At night, it might involve hazards in an unlit area of the parking lot.

Icy Sidewalks or Parking Lots

Liability for falls caused by snowy or icy surfaces can be complicated under Illinois law. Property owners are not generally responsible for “natural accumulations” of snow or ice.

An exception may apply, however, if a property owner creates an “unnatural accumulation” on their property. For example, an Illinois court held a property owner liable for a slip-and-fall injury caused by an icy parking lot when the ice resulted from snow piled against the side of the building which melted and then re-froze as black ice.

Who Could Be Liable for a Slip-and-Fall Accident at a Walmart Store?

Under Illinois’ premises liability law, a property owner is liable for injuries caused by hazardous conditions when:

  • They know, or should know, about the hazard; and
  • They fail to repair or warn visitors about it.

A large store like a Walmart Supercenter presents many possible slip-and-fall risks. A store manager should know about the potential risks. For example, spills are likely to happen in the grocery section of a Supercenter, so management is responsible for regularly inspecting the area and cleaning up spills promptly.

A property owner is usually only liable for slip-and-fall accidents when they have direct control over maintaining the property. If someone else is responsible for maintenance, such as if they are leasing the property from the owner, they could be liable instead.

The following parties could be liable for slip-and-fall accidents on the premises of a Walmart:

  • Walmart: Walmart owns most of its store locations, but even if it leases a property where it operates a store, it could be liable since it would be responsible for maintaining the premises.
  • Businesses that lease space inside Walmart: The company allows other businesses to operate inside Walmart stores. If a slip-and-fall accident occurs in a leased part of the store, the lessee could be liable for any injuries that result.
  • Contractors: While property owners are ultimately responsible for hazardous conditions on their premises, a third party like a construction contractor could be liable instead in certain situations. For example, a contractor could be liable for their own negligence while working on the property.
  • The injured person: A court could find that a slip-and-fall accident victim is at least partly responsible for their own injuries, such as if the evidence shows that they were not looking where they were going when the fall occurred. Illinois’ comparative negligence law allows courts to reduce a plaintiff’s amount of damages if they were partially at fault.

What Should I Do After a Slip-and-Fall Accident at a Wal-Mart Store?

The following steps can help you protect your rights after a slip-and-fall accident:

  • Seek medical attention.
  • Take photos of the accident scene and your injuries.
  • Talk to witnesses and get their contact information.
  • Report the accident to store management.
  • Contact a slip-and-fall accident attorney.

What Should I Expect From the Insurance Claim Process?

Your lawyer will prepare a claim to submit to the insurance company. This will include information about how the accident occurred, the extent of your injuries, and a settlement demand. The insurance company will review the claim and either deny it or make a settlement offer. The process serves as a preview of how a lawsuit might go.

Possible defense strategies that Walmart might use include the following:

  • Deny liability: They might argue that they are not legally responsible for your injuries at all.
  • Allege contributory negligence: They could claim that you are partly at fault. Under the comparative negligence rule, you can recover a reduced amount of damages as long as your share of the fault is no more than 50%.
  • Dispute causation: They can argue that the hazardous condition did not cause the accident or your injuries.
  • Dispute the severity of your injuries: They might allege, based on your medical records, that your injuries are actually the result of a pre-existing condition or past accident.

Large companies like Walmart have access to evidence that might not be available to smaller businesses. This evidence can just as easily work in your favor, depending on what it shows:

  • Maintenance logs: Stores often keep track of when floors are cleaned, which could show that a spill had not been cleaned up yet when your accident occurred.
  • Surveillance video: Video footage can corroborate your version of what happened.

Injured in a Slip-and-Fall Accident? Contact an Orland Park Personal Injury Attorney Today.

Slip-and-fall accident lawyer Michael J. Brennan has spent decades advocating for the rights of people who have suffered injuries in Orland Park and throughout the Chicago suburbs. He will fight tirelessly at the negotiating table and, if necessary, in the courtroom to recover the compensation you deserve. Schedule a confidential consultation today to discuss your case by calling 708-762-8239 or filling out the firm’s online contact form.

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