Is A Store Responsible When A Customer Is Injured?
When you go to a store to shop, you expect to be in a safe environment. However, accidents can happen. You might slip on a spill on the floor. An item on a top-shelf might fall on you. The mat by the entrance was askew and you tripped. When examples like these result in an injury, the store has a level of liability. As the injured party, it is important for you to know what your rights are so you can exercise your rights and pursue compensation for damages.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 90 percent of customer injuries in a store were caused by some kind of negligence. In these situations, the store is responsible to cover the cost of damages. However, documenting and proving that the store was at fault can take a lot of time and effort. If you sustained serious injuries that required medical attention and ongoing treatment, the claim can get quite complex. You would not be able to tackle this on your own while you are recovering. This would be a situation when you should enlist help from an experienced personal injury attorney.
Retail stores have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe for anyone who walks into the store. The store is obligated to do everything that it is reasonable to do to prevent anyone from getting hurt while they are in the store. That means if an unsafe condition was caused/created and the store did not take any action to remove the hazard within a reasonable time period, the store will be considered negligent in their duty to keep their premises safe. They can be held liable for injuries created by this hazard.
Unsafe situations can be created in a number of ways. Merchandise on overhead shelves can fall over and hit someone on the head. Shelving might have sharp edges that resulted in cuts to the customer. Spills on the floor that have been unattended can cause someone to slip and fall. Floor Mats that are not positioned properly can cause a customer to trip. A poorly lit parking lot (which is also considered store property) can result in a shopper not seeing hazards that could have been avoided if the lot had adequate lighting. The entrance door can malfunction and cause injuries. Shopping carts can be defective. Aisles can be obstructed by boxes of products that were intended to restock the shelves but were not done in a timely manner. Food products might be spoiled or contaminated. There can be other situations. If any of these conditions caused an injury to a customer, the store can be found negligent in failing to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of their customers..
If you are injured in a store, the immediate action to take is to tend to your own safety. If you are in a lot of pain, call 911. Ask a nearby shopper to inform store personnel right away so that they can secure the area of the store where you were injured. The store manager should get involved with filling out a store incident report to document exactly what happened that led to your injury. This will be a significant piece of information when you file your claim.
If possible, get the contact information of any nearby shoppers who can serve as your witnesses. Take photos of the store area and where you were injured. Do this before the store cleans up their spills or reshelves merchandise that fell over. You want to document the unsafe condition that the store was in as further evidence of their negligence. Obtain a copy of the incident report filled out by the store’s employees.
Even if you did not feel like you were injured seriously at the moment of the incident, the incident report, witness information, and photo documentation should be done right away. For slip and fall injuries, sometimes pain doesn’t surface until later in the day when your muscles, bones, and joints start to react. In that case, seek medical attention right away so your injury will not get worse and to document the visit. If you need multiple visits, you will need a copy of all the medical reports, medical bills and receipts, and proof of your loss of wages if you were not able to go to work.
If your injuries turned out more serious than you originally thought, you should consult an attorney to help you file a claim for your case. He will represent you and make sure that you will be compensated fairly. You will have peace of mind that your case is in good hands while you focus on your recovery.