I am a personal injury attorney in Decatur, Georgia and I have successfully handled cases against many national retailers. If you are injured in a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club store, here are five things you should know.
1. Many people are injured at Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the United States and, for that reason alone, many customers experience injuries in or at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores. But the number of stores is only part of the equation. In some stores, customer safety may not be the priority it should be, resulting in avoidable injuries.
2. In all states, Wal-Mart self-insures.
Most retail stores have a general liability insurance policy. They pay the premiums on the policy and, if someone is injured in the store, the insurance company – not the store – handles the claim. Wal-Mart self-insures, which means the Wal-Mart manages all claims against the store itself through a “separate” company that is controlled and owned by Wal-Mart. This means that Wal-Mart exercises a great degree of control over the claims process and any money they pay out comes directly out of Wal-Mart’s pocket. Not surprisingly, Wal-Mart does not like to lose money, which leads us to the next point…
3. Many people have had a difficult time getting Wal-Mart to help them after injuries.
A common experience is that a person is injured in a store, and they immediately tell the manager or a store employee. The employee seems concerned, tells the injured person that Wal-Mart might be able to help, and gives the person the phone number of the risk management office to call. And then, nothing happens. No one from the store contacts the injured person, and phone calls to the number go unreturned. Paperwork gets lost, and the claim gets delayed. Some people have even suffered permanent injury that could have been avoided if medical treatment had been given immediately. If you are hurt and do not have insurance, it is imperative that you get the help you need as soon as possible.
4. Wal-Mart initially denies many claims.
Oftentimes, Wal-Mart will say that customer is to blame for the injury and that he or she should have been more careful. Many people get discouraged if their claim is denied and give up, and then Wal-Mart does not have to compensate these people for the injuries they caused. This is one reason why it is so important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after you are injured.
5. To win against Wal-Mart, you have to fight back.
If you are injured in a Wal-Mart, or any other store, you should consult with a personal injury attorney who has experience handling cases against Wal-Mart. An initial consultation with almost any personal injury lawyer is free, and an attorney will be able to tell you what steps to take next. In the meantime, do not talk to anyone representing Wal-Mart about the accident without an attorney present. They employ claims adjusters who are trained to minimize the damages an injured party can recover and try to get people to admit that they were at fault in the accident. Also, make sure to get the medical attention you need. Many attorneys have relationships with local doctors who will provide medical service with the understanding that the patient will pay the bills when he or she wins in court or settles the claim. While fighting to get your claim resolved can seem bewildering, an experienced attorney will know exactly what to do so that you can get all the help that you need.