Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Shopping-Related Injuries: Who Is at Fault?

When are stores responsible for patrons' personal injuries on their premises?

Thousands of personal injury claims filed in the U.S. annually are the result of injuries that have occurred during shopping expeditions. Although most of us do not view shopping as a dangerous activity, injuries that take place in stores, shopping malls and other retail establishments can be severe, life-changing, and even, on occasion, fatal.

Types of Shopping Injuries

Many shopping injuries are minor and may involve small cuts or bruises, but others are serious and need emergency attention. Shoppers may suffer sprains, fractures, head trauma, back or neck injuries while shopping as a result of:

  • Slips and falls
  • Shopping cart injuries
  • Falling objects from shelves or displays
  • Overcrowding hazards, such as trampling during a timed sale (think "Black Friday")
  • Parking lot injuries
  • Escalator, stair, or elevator injuries

While accidents do happen and it is certainly possible for someone to "trip over their own feet" or unwittingly bang into a barrier, some serious accidents in stores are the result of negligence on the part of the management or staff. As might be expected, the rate of shopping injuries escalates during the holiday season, during big sales, and when new electronics, books, CDs or DVDs are being released with fanfare.

Shopping-Related Personal Injury Claims

If you suffer a personal injury in a store due to negligence on the part of the management or staff, you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering, loss of work time, and/or disability. In the awful situation that a death occurs in a store or mall, the family of the victim should receive substantial damages.

 Store owners and managers are responsible for keeping their premises, clean, dry, sufficiently well-lit and in good repair. If a can of peas that has been carelessly stacked falls and hits you on the head, the store is clearly at fault. Similarly, if a spill has been left on the floor and you slip on it, or if you trip over a breakage that hasn't been cleared, the store is likely to be held responsible for the accident.

Establishing Fault

In order to prove that the property owner is at fault, you must be able to show that:

  • The owner or manager knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition
  • The store owner did not regularly inspect the store or provide adequate maintenance
  • The injury you suffered would not have occurred if not for the dangerous existing condition
  • There was a direct relation between the dangerous condition and the injury
  • You have suffered actual damages as a result of the accident
  • In the owner's defense, he or she may claim that:
  • There was no dangerous condition
  • He or she had no prior knowledge of the dangerous condition
  • Reasonable steps were taken to protect or warn customers
  • You ventured into a part of the store where customers weren't allowed
  • You should have seen the obvious danger and avoided it
  • Your behavior was negligent or risky (such as climbing on a shelf)

If you have been injured while shopping, once you have had medical attention you should get in touch with an experienced, competent personal injury attorney to explore your options. If your injury was due to the negligence of another, you deserve fair compensation. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate a substantial settlement for your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and associated costs, or will be able to assist you in filing a lawsuit and fighting for your rights in court.

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