Shopping Injuries Overview
Shopping-related injuries -- such as slip and falls and back and neck injuries -- account for thousands of personal injury claims each year in the U.S. Aside from consumer overspending, most people do not think of being in any particular danger when shopping for items such as clothing, toys, electronics, and household goods. Shopping injuries, however, are more common than one would think and sometimes involve a store owner's failure to keep their premises safe, or warn of known hazards that may injure shoppers, workers and visitors.
Types of Shopping Injuries
"Shopping injuries" is a broad term used to describe personal injuries that occur while visiting a store, shopping mall, or other retail establishment. While many shopping-related injuries are minor, more serious injuries may include broken bones, sprains, head trauma, neck injury, spinal injury, and even death. Moreover, the rate of shopping injuries tends to increase during heavy shopping seasons, such as during the Christmas season, "Black Friday", and other holidays.
Types of shopping-related accidents that may occur on a store's property include:
- Slip and Falls - as a result of wet floors, torn carpets, poorly lit lighting, and escalator malfunctions
- Head and body injuries - from falling objects, retail displays, out-of-reach objects, or other mishaps
- Shopping cart injuries - falls as a result of a cart tipping over
- Overcrowding injuries - as a result of over-crowding hazards, i.e. trampling
- Parking lot injuries - as a result of a cracked or improperly designed parking lot, or failure to remove ice or snow
Shopping-Related Personal Injury Claims
Individuals who are injured on commercial property, such as stores or shopping malls, may generally file personal injury claims under a state's negligence laws. Under premises liability laws, store owners must exercise reasonable care to see that a store's premises are reasonably safe from hidden dangers or hazardous conditions they have reason to believe may cause injury. For example, stores must clean up spills quickly, remove fallen objects, fix broken stairs or railings, replace dimmed light bulbs, and provide adequate security for customers.
To prove a store was legally responsible for a shoppers injuries, he or she must establish 1) the store owner knew (or should have known) about a dangerous condition on their property, 2) the store owner did not regularly inspect the store for dangers, or provided inadequate maintenance, 3) that the shopper would not have been injured if there was not a dangerous condition on the property, 4) there was a relation between the dangerous condition and the shopper's injury, and 5) that the shopper suffered actual "damages" as a result of it.
Store Owner's Defense to a Property Owners Claim
Store owners who face a personal injury claim may raise the following defenses:
- No dangerous condition existed on the premises
- The store owner had no prior knowledge
- The store owner took reasonable steps to correct any dangerous condition
- The condition was so obvious as to avoid
- The danger did not cause the customer's injuries
- The injury occurred in a place where customers are not allowed
- The customer was negligent and assumed his or her own risk.
What to Do If You've Been Injured at a Store
If you have been injured while shopping on a store's premises, you should discuss your potential case with an experienced personal injury attorney. A good personal injury lawyer can help determine whether a store was at fault which may potentially help you recover monetary damages for the injuries you have incurred. Likewise, if you were involved in a work-related injury as an employee, you should contact a workers' compensation lawyer in your area. Lastly, since personal injury claims must be made within a certain time period (for example, three years) you should speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.