Commercial-Liability Defense Saves Walmart from Paying Damages

Slip-and-fall accidents that happen on store or business premises are unfortunate and can lead to huge settlements of monetary damages to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries.

Businesses, big and small, are exposed to potential lawsuits everyday as they invite customers and clients to enter their premises. Property owners have the legal duty to prevent injury to invitees to their premises, such as customers and clients, but not all injuries occurring in their establishments are compensable under tort law.

If an injured person is suing you or your business for a slip and fall accident in your premises, you are entitled to raise any commercial liability defense appropriate under the situation.

The Case of the Liquid Puddle in Walmart

A woman sued Walmart for injuries she allegedly sustained after she slipped and fell in an alley near an employee-only door in a Walmart outlet.

In her complaint, the plaintiff maintained that a liquid puddle which she suspected to be water may have been caused by a store employee who was seen stocking water bottles nearby. No one else witnessed the fall and it could not be ascertained whether the puddle had been on the floor long enough for a store employee to notice it and do something about it.

The trial court ruled in favor of Walmart for the reasons that:

  • There was no evidence showing that the defendant placed or caused the liquid to be placed on the floor where the plaintiff slipped and fell
  • There was no evidence that the defendant’s employees had actual or constructive notice of the spill

On appeal, the appellate court confirmed the decision of the trial court and reiterated that the plaintiff’s case must fail because she was not able to prove that Walmart was responsible for the puddle or had actual or constructive knowledge of the existence of the puddle.

In California, tort law requires a similar burden on the plaintiff to prove not only that the store or property owner has a legal duty to prevent their injuries but also to establish responsibility for the hazardous condition or actual or constructive knowledge of the hazardous condition.

In Modesto, California, the law firm of Arata, Swingle, Van Egmond & Goodwin has more than 60 years of combined experience in commercial liability defense, saving companies and businesses from huge financial setbacks in personal injury lawsuits.

We welcome your call to us today at (209) 522-2211 to speak to an attorney about your situation.