Walmart is a household name. Do you know the multinational chain operates over 10,000 stores in over two dozen countries? That it’s the largest US retailer and has the highest revenue of any business in any country in the world? What about the fact that it’s the largest private employer in the United States? There’s no disputing the international successes of a company that showed its potential as a retail giant from the beginning — expanding to 18 stores within its first five years.
Unfortunately for shoppers and employees alike, Walmart is also known for its many lawsuits and penalties, from civil rights offenses to wage and labor law violations. In addition, Walmart has been the site of a number of accidents resulting in injury and countless lawsuits. But how do you seek justice for a personal injury claim against a corporate giant?
What Kinds of Accidents Are Common on Walmart Property?
Injuries suffered in workplace environments, including retail stores, are not limited to employees who work with heavy equipment. Here are the causes of the most common injuries faced by shoppers and employees alike:
- Wet or slippery floors
- Falling merchandise
- Improperly handling materials
- Cluttered aisles
- Repetitive movements
- Heavy equipment, like forklifts
- Workplace violence
According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Walmart has the second-highest number of severe injuries reported of any employer in the United States. This includes devastating injuries, such as:
- On-the-job amputations
- Loss of an eye
- Injuries resulting in hospitalization
While it’s not surprising that a company with so many employees would have a relatively large amount of injuries, OSHA believes that nearly 50 percent of injuries go unreported.
Injury on Walmart properties happens primarily in three locations:
- Retail stores. Slips and falls are the most common injuries at retail stores, impacting shoppers and employees alike. According to reporting by the National Flooring Safety Institute, slip-and-fall injuries are more likely to happen to women, with a 5 percent fatality rate. Other nonfatal injuries include overexertion, being hit with an object or equipment, exposure to harmful substances, or physical violence.
- Distribution centers. An injury analysis at a Walmart distribution center reported on one year’s worth of injuries, finding that 41.1 percent suffered a muscle injury, 20.5 percent contusions, and 14.7 percent sprains. Cuts and eye injuries were reported together, and 23.5 percent of employees experienced them over the year.
- Commercial trucks. Walmart tries to keep its high-dollar salary for its private fleet of over 10,000 drivers as its most notable commercial trucking statistic. However, the 2015 crash that left comedian Tracy Morgan and two others critically injured and killed comedian James McNair involved a Walmart trucker who had been awake for almost 24 hours. While Walmart reacted with reports of increased safety measures, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that Walmart drivers were involved in semi truck crashes resulting in 19 fatalities and 152 injuries in the US between July 2019 and July 2021.
The Texas Department of Insurance reports that more workers in retail stores get sick and injured than in any other private industry, outpacing even work that is perceived as more dangerous, like factory work or construction. It’s important to note that Walmart in Texas has opted out of workers’ compensation in favor of its own private plan.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Injured at a Walmart?
If you’ve been injured on Walmart property, the first thing you should do is seek medical help. This is primarily for your own health, but it’s also important to document your immediate diagnosis, symptoms, and attempt to seek care in the event that you do need to file a claim or even a lawsuit.
- If you need immediate medical attention, try to take pictures of the surrounding area when objects or other circumstances, such as an unmarked wet floor or importantly stacked merchandise, contributed to your injury.
- As soon as you are able, contact a personal injury attorney. Most people do not think litigiously and don’t realize how what they say about an incident can be used against them down the line, so speaking to an attorney first can help protect your rights in the event of the worst-case scenario.
- Do not write or sign any statement. You will need to report your injury quickly to a Walmart employee, most likely the store manager, who is required to investigate your injury, but you are not required to sign anything.
- Do not give any recorded statement to Walmart or a representative, such as a claims adjuster. Walmart has an entire division of the company devoted to dealing with claims like yours, and they have one goal: minimize Walmart’s financial responsibility.
- Do not accept an early settlement. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine whether you are being offered fair recovery for the damages you have suffered; if you’re not, they will advise you on your next steps.
What Is the Process of a Personal Injury Claim Against Walmart?
Once you have determined that you will need legal support and your lawyer has determined that you have a valid claim, your lawyer will work with you to determine the best course of action and the kinds of damages to seek recovery for in your case.
Employers like Walmart that opt not to purchase workers’ compensation policies, called non-subscriber employers, may be especially likely to face legal action under the Texas Labor Code if an employee is injured while performing the duties of the job. In the case of a non-subscriber employer, the most important thing for an injured employee is to establish the cause of the injury and the circumstances surrounding it.
Personal injury victims may be able to recover damages like past and future lost wages, medical expenses, past and future impairment and mental anguish, and physical and emotional losses.
How Can FVF Help?
When it comes to providing information to victims of Walmart injuries, FVF is determined to make sure you know your options, regardless of whether you hire us to represent you. Contact us for a no-cost case consultation and information about resources available to you.