Most of us have shopped at large warehouse stores with merchandise stacked up on towering store shelves, sometimes high above the floor. This business model is convenient and cost-effective for large outlets because it eliminates the need for additional storage or another warehouse to maintain large quantities of merchandise.
However, when merchandise is inadequately secured, it poses a significant risk to unsuspecting shoppers as falling merchandise, such as boxes, can fall on a customer, causing a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and fatalities.
The premises liability lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, fight insurance companies on behalf of our clients who require medical care after suffering falling merchandise injuries on the sales floor.
Our law firm handles personal injury cases and protects our client’s legal issues and rights as we seek compensation. We offer a free consultation to discuss the merits of falling merchandise cases at our law firm. Contact our Chicago falling merchandise lawyer at (888) 424-5757.
All confidential or sensitive information you share concerning your injuries from falling merchandise remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
The Store Owners’ Duty of Care Against Falling Merchandise Injuries
Every retail or warehouse store business owner must take reasonable care to protect the public and shoppers visiting their establishment. This legal duty extends to store and property owners, including grocery stores, small retailers, and big-box stores like Walmart.
Preventing merchandise from falling can be supported when retail store managers and owners prohibit workers from stacking heavy merchandise on a high shelf. A personal injury case can be avoided if the property owner ensures tenants, workers, and managers follow safety rules and protocols.
Employees must ensure that merchandise is not improperly stacked, avoiding any dangerous condition that could cause serious injury or falling merchandise injuries to shoppers.
Prevalence of Falling Merchandise Accidents At Large Retailers and Warehouse Chain Stores
Since 1987, roughly 30,000 severe injuries have been reported by Walmart as a result of falling merchandise. Home Depot has confirmed as many as 185 falling merchandise injury claims per week.
A paper produced by the Roderick Retail Safety Institute in 2009, written by Dr. Larry Roderick, Ph.D., PE, conservatively estimates 750,000 customer accidents yearly in the United States. How many of these are from falling merchandise is challenging to determine.
The United States federal government has yet to mandate a collection system for gathering information on unsafe or hazardous conditions that lead to shopping mall accidents. Therefore the exact number of falling merchandise injuries has not been documented, and the number of personal injury claims remains unknown.
There have been many articles, television news shows, and extensive litigation on these potential hazards, lending some reasonable estimates on the prevalence of these accidents. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, is familiar with the merchandising practices at such large stores as Costco, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, and Walmart in liability cases.
Increasing Shopper Safety
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors requested a report with recommendations for ensuring more safety for shoppers in large retail outlets. The Legislative Analyst Report on Warehouse Safety Standards  states that the following factors could increase shopper safety:
- Height policies for stacked merchandise that consider the type of shelving and type of merchandise
- Procedures that require store personnel to regularly check the store aisles and correct misplaced items
- Stacking merchandise when the store is closed to customers or when there is minimal customer traffic
- Worker education and training on the safe stacking of merchandise, including handling slippery boxes
- Greater involvement by managers in promoting safe workplace practices
Some big-box stores have taken safety measures to protect their customers from falling merchandise by stocking the shelves after hours.
Customer Injuries Sustained in an Accident Caused by Falling Merchandise
Many people have been injured by falling merchandise and sustained serious injuries by either being crushed by oversized pallets or objects falling from the “sky shelving” inside some warehouse stores. Their injuries are not just caused by large or heavy objects but also by the velocity as the item falls.
Even a small object hurtling toward the sales floor can be dangerous. An eight-pound bowling ball dropped four feet will have the “weight” of a 400 lb stationary object. Under these hazardous conditions, falling merchandise can very likely fatally strike the head of the victim.
Various common injuries and permanent injuries can occur from wet floor fall accidents and falling merchandise, causing:
- Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
- Neck and back injuries, including herniated discs
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Various spinal cord injuries
- Nerve damage
- Total paralysis
- Fall injuries
- Bruises or contusions
- Wrongful death
Responsibility of Stores to Protect Customers from Injuries From Falling Merchandise
Under the law regarding the liability of premises, retail store owners are duty-bound to provide a safe environment for their customers and employees. When merchandise falls from the shelving, the store ‘failed’ in its duty to protect shoppers. It can be considered a dangerous premise liability issue, where the store owner can be held liable for fair compensation.
When a business has not correctly and properly secured its merchandise, they are acting negligently and not protecting the consumer from possible falling merchandise injury. In most cases, the store owner, management, and employees could be found financially liable for damages.
Many injured customers are entitled to receive a financial recovery in a premises liability lawsuit with falling merchandise injuries to cover their medical expenses, physical therapy, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
Falling Store Merchandise Accident FAQs
Below are some frequently asked questions about personal injuries sustained due to falling merchandise in department stores. Should you have additional questions, we welcome you to contact our law firm and speak to a personal injury lawyer in a free consultation today regarding your legal rights and options.
Can You Sue a Store For Negligence?
Stores must protect all patrons, visitors, “invitees,” and employees from injury and fix or barricade any hazardous area to warn customers of impending danger.
Even so, patrons can become accident victims and suffer serious injuries daily in retail stores due to unsafe conditions caused by negligently stacking merchandise in stores and allowing falling merchandise.
What Do I Do If I am Injured in a Store?
If you are the victim of falling merchandise or slip and fall on the premises, you have legal rights to protect yourself. First, seek medical attention immediately, as your well-being is your priority. Second, gather evidence and speak to eyewitnesses.
Next, notify the store’s management to file a report with the main office. Finally, seek personal injury attorneys specializing in falling store merchandise accidents to help you obtain the maximum compensation.
You have the right to hold the property owners and the store liable to recover financial compensation for all medical bills, other related medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
What Is Negligence and The Test of Negligence?
Tort liability laws are primarily built on the negligent actions of others and serve as the main claim to moderate to severe injury, wrongful death, or property damage cases.
Legally, testing for negligence in a premises liability case requires:
- Firstly, determine if the defendant had a duty to protect the “invitee.”
- Second, did the defendant breach their duty by either acting negligently or failing to act to protect?
- Third, the test must identify that the defendant’s breach of duty was proximate (near) and correlating to the plaintiff’s harm.
- Finally, the test must prove that the plaintiff suffered damage and injuries in falling merchandise accidents.
What Is the Store Owner’s Responsibility?
Each store/property owner, management, and employee must provide a safe environment for all patrons, visitors, contractors, wholesalers, and others inside and outside the premises. Employees must stock merchandise on overhead shelves safely to ensure no falling merchandise.
Indoor floors and outdoor sidewalks, and parking lots must remain free of debris to provide safe access in and out of the establishment. If you were injured by falling merchandise at the store, you have the legal right to seek financial compensation for the store’s negligence.
Should you consider a falling merchandise lawsuit, proving negligence, the following needs to be proved:
- The store owner owned, leased, or occupied the store property
- The owner of the store used or maintained the property negligently
- You suffered injuries on the store property
- The negligence of the store owner was a leading factor in your injuries
What are Some Examples of Negligence?
Examples of common negligence occurrences might involve a drunk driver running a stoplight and causing a fatality. Another example might be a retail establishment failing to barricade a wet floor after cleaning up a spilled liquid.
A third example might involve a landlord who did not replace broken stair steps in a collapsed stairwell and injured tenants, guests, or delivery workers.
If you were injured by falling merchandise and the store owner or employees were negligent in their duty to provide a safe environment to serve clients, you may be able to recover compensation from the store owner for medical bills, lost wages, and other related costs.
Chicago Falling Merchandise Lawyers Representing Victims of Falling Merchandise Injury
Were you or a family member injured, or have you lost a loved one in a falling merchandise accident in Illinois? If so, you deserve full compensation through a favorable settlement or jury trial.
Our law firm understands the impact an injury or wrongful death can have on a family. Our personal injury lawyers will fight for your rights within the law.
We have years of experience handling an Illinois injury compensation case, and your personal injury attorney will do everything necessary to obtain the best possible outcome in your personal injury claim to ensure all parties responsible for your losses cover medical costs, lost wages, and other damages.
A successful resolution of your premises liability claim will include recovery of your medical costs and time away from work. Contact our law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Contingency “No Win, No Fee” Guarantee
No fee is ever charged unless our law firm obtains a financial award for your falling merchandise case. Our personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis. Our “No-Win/No-Fee Guarantee” ensures you will owe our law firm nothing if our law firm cannot successfully resolve your case.
Resources:  sfbos.org