You may think shopping is a relatively harmless activity, but thousands of people are injured each year in consumer-related pursuits. Shopping injuries may occur because a store owner has failed to keep the premises safe, or to warn of known dangers that may injure shoppers, workers and visitors.
Broadly speaking, the term, ‘shopping injury’ is used to describe personal injuries that occur while a person is visiting a retail establishment such as a store or shopping mall. Most shopping-related injuries are minor, but more severe cases might involve broken bones, sprains, head trauma, neck injury, spinal injury, and even death. During high-volume shopping periods such as Christmas season or Black Friday, retail-related injuries tend to increase at a greater rate.
Types of Shopping Accidents
Types of shopping accidents that commonly occur on a store-owner’s premises include:
- Falls that result when a shopping cart tips over.
- Slips and falls caused by poor lighting conditions, wet floors, torn or worn carpeting and malfunctioning escalators.
- Injuries to head and body caused by falling objects and retail displays.
- Trampling injuries caused by overcrowding hazards.
- Parking lot injuries resulting from cracked surfaces, poor design, or slippery conditions caused by failure to remove accumulated ice and snow.
State negligence laws generally allow for the filing of claims by persons injured in commercial establishments such as stores or shopping malls. Under the theory of premises liability, store owners must take reasonable steps to keep store premises reasonably free of dangers or hazardous conditions that they have reason to believe may cause injury. Store owners are responsible, for example, for fixing worn or broken stairs and railings, for removing fallen objects and debris, for cleaning up spills and wet floor surfaces, for installing adequate lighting, and for providing customers with an adequate level of security.
To prove a store owner was liable for a shopping-related injury, the plaintiff must establish:
- The store owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition existing on the property.
- The store owner failed to properly maintain the premises, or neglected to regularly inspect the store for possible hazardous conditions.
- The shopper would not have been injured but for the dangerous condition on the property.
- The shopper’s injuries were caused by the dangerous condition.
- The shopper is able to show actual damages as a result of the injury.
The store owner might argue that:
- The premises were free of dangers.
- He had no knowledge of a dangerous condition.
- He took reasonable steps to repair the hazard.
- The shopper should have noticed the condition and avoided it,
- The condition did not cause the customer’s injuries,
- The customer should not have been in that particular area of the store,
- The shopper caused the injury by means of his or her own negligence.
As you can see, these cases involve complicated facts and a store owner’s liability might be difficult to prove. If you have suffered a shopping-related injury, you should consult with an attorney experienced in these matters.