Retail work can be dangerous, and workers in this industry often face many risks on the job. From lifting heavy objects to being struck by falling merchandise, retail workers encounter hazards daily.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), many retail workers suffer from injuries at a rate that is more than 60% higher than the national average.
Were you injured while working in a retail store in Chicago, Illinois? If so, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits to help you recover from your injury and get back on your feet. The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can help.
Call our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Retail employees work in various merchandise industries, including those that sell appliances, furniture, apparel, home-improvement goods, recreational vehicles, and automobiles.
Their work entails direct service to customers who buy small quantities, comparative wholesaling specializing in bulk sales to commercial buyers.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that more retailers in the United States than any other employment group, representing approximately 6% of the total American workforce.
The more than 7.5 million workers in the retail industry hold sales positions and cashier jobs.
The workers are typically hired by different outlets and retail stores, including specialists at apparel shops, department stores, big-box retailers, supermarkets, and others that require one-on-one assistance to assist customers in choosing items and paying for the product.
Common job duties associated with retail workers include:
- Stocking Shelves: The retail workers must stock shelves to ensure ample merchandise available for consumers to purchase. Their duties involve checking the shelf inventory and replenishing supplies when items are running low. In some cases, the retail worker must identify product labels and check dates to remove all expired products before their “sell-by” date. If the item requires a price markdown, the employee must go through the inventory to add new price stickers or remove the existing price tag.
- Merchandising: During promotional times, the employee must merchandise the product to increase sales. Merchandising includes building displays, adding signage, and taking other measures to increase consumer awareness that the promotional offer offering sales prices is available.
- Assisting the Customer: In some high retail establishments, the retail employee must assist the customer in selecting the best product that fits their needs. This customer assistance service might require the employee to demonstrate the product or provide advice on meeting the consumers’ needs. Customer assistance is also provided in various self-service businesses, including retail stores, supermarkets, and other retailers, where the consumer needs to have the product’s features explained.
- Checkout Assistance: If the customer is ready to checkout, many retail employees have the authority to accept payment from the purchaser and double duty as a cashier. Their cashiering duties might entail a scanning system that automatically locates the item’s price and enters it into the sales transaction. Otherwise, the employee will have to manually enter every purchase detail into the cash register to ensure the transaction price is correct and the sale is complete.
- Providing Customer Service: Every retail employee providing services “on the floor” within sight of customers is responsible for providing customer service in some capacity. For example, other workers will oversee arranging home deliveries, dealing with product exchanges and returns, and applying discounts to ensure the shelf price matches the checkout price.
Additional duties that happen routinely include performing basic operational tasks, including closing and opening the facility, removing and replacing essential signage as a part of merchandising, and supervising deliveries of new merchandise brought into the retail shop.
Successful, long-term retail workers have certain characteristics, including the desire to make the customer happy through honesty, patience, and empathy in satisfying the consumer’s shopping needs.
If you or a family member was injured while working at retail, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation monetary benefits. Contact the retail store workers’ compensation attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for more information and a free initial consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.
Retail Employee Safety Hazards
There are significant hazards to working in the retail industry that could cause the worker to experience severe harm or death. The work-related risk factors can be dangerous under certain circumstances. The most common hazards recognized in the retail industry include:
- Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents: Many injured retail workers are hurt every year in a fall accident when using ladders and slipping on wet surfaces
- Heavy Lifting: Moving heavy merchandise boxes, shelving, and tables or pushing heavy boxes using two-wheel and four-wheel carts can cause significant workplace injuries
- Machinery-Related Injuries: Caused by using power tools, food slicers, and other equipment.
- Chemical Exposure: Workplace injuries caused by exposure to spilled chemicals and cleaning products
- Forklift and Pallet Jack Injuries: Moving merchandise through mechanical means of a forklift or pallet jack creates retail workplace hazards like crushing injuries that occur when the victim is caught in or caught on a forklift or pallet jack
- Cuts and Lacerations: Using sharp objects, including knives and box cutters.
- Work-Related Stress: Injuries caused by stressful tension in the workplace can result in poor health and physical harm
- Falling Objects and Merchandise: In many cases, merchandise falling on workers and customers leads to a severe injury
- Excessive Workplace Noise: Generated by machinery, equipment, and tools that vibrate or emit excessive decibels that could lead to significant hearing loss or another workplace injury
- Work-Related Bullying: Workers are often exposed to bullying involving unruly customers, angry coworkers, and harassing supervisors
- Repetitive stress injuries: Many retail workers suffer injuries through repetitive motion leading to carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries, broken bones, and joint pain; Employers may be held accountable for the severe injuries for failing to use ergonomic solutions to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress nerve damage.
- Job-Related Violence: A retail worker can be exposed to criminal activity, including robberies and abusive customer behavior
Most hazards in the workplace occurred to new, inexperienced workers due to a failure to provide adequate supervision or proper training that insurers their job was performed correctly and safely.
Other times, the worker is injured at night, working alone, or through overexertion caused by working extended hours. Therefore, the employer, manager, or supervisor should ensure that every retail employee has all necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to keep them safe on the job.
Long-term workers who have worked there for years or decades may develop repetitive motion injuries through constantly and repetitively performing the same tasks that caused muscle and nerve damage to the hand, fingers, wrist, forearm, shoulders, and neck.
Remaining safe in the workplace cannot be accomplished by developing a program. However, the effort by the management, owners, and supervisors to create a mindset of safety principles that are followed diligently is a crucial component of workers remaining safe on the job.
A mindful approach to safety as an integral component of a professional can ensure that every employee’s health, well-being, and work environment remain protected.
Retail Workers’ Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016, data concerning the employment statistics of the previous year, 100,370 retail store workers were working in the Chicago, Naperville, and Arlington Heights metropolitan areas.
On average, retail store workers in northeastern Illinois earn $28,410 every year (mean wage), $14.40 per hour. The wage is slightly higher than the national average. See Chart
Retail Employee Fatalities and Severe Injuries
Many workers who work in any retail establishment are placed at risk every day while on the job. In recent years, the number of killings and injuries caused by criminal actions against retail store workers has risen significantly.
Below is a small sample of retail employee fatalities that occurred while the worker was on the job.
- Case 1: Avondale, Arizona – In February 2017, a Best Buy employee has involved in a domestic violence double shooting just before noon. The 26-year-old female employee and a 27-year-old male were transported to the hospital by EMT, where the woman was pronounced dead. Witnesses detailed a confrontation outside Best Buy between both individuals in the shooting. After a few shots were fired outside the facility by the male suspect, the female employee ran inside but was followed by the shooter, who fired several more shots. Terrified employees and customers ran for cover. However, two women could not escape through the emergency door and instead hid in the women’s bathroom.
- Case 2: Warrenton, Virginia – A 76-year-old employee allegedly murdered his 64-year-old CVS manager. After sundown, the local police found the manager’s body behind the facility near a dumpster. Police are still attempting to determine the alleged suspect’s motivation before being charged with the manager’s murder.
- Case 3: Long Island, New York – A part-time Walmart worker was trampled to death on Black Friday in November 2008 when thousands of eager shoppers rushed to the front entrance while the worker was attempting to unlock a door. Video surveillance revealed the crowd of at least a dozen individuals to the floor during the stampede of early shopping opportunities in their attempt to get through the doors first.
- Case 4: Crawford County, Pennsylvania – An employee died in a suspected homicide while working in a vitamin shop. The 21-year-old male employee was discovered at approximately 8:00 AM in December 2017. Police determined that the victim died the night before approximately 7:00 PM, which would coincide with closing time.
- Case 5: Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania – After more than a year of investigating, officials have charged two suspects in the fatal shooting of the Northampton County Verizon store employee in 2016. The murder victim was killed in front of his Palmer Township home after leaving the place. The two suspects apparently wanted to abduct the victim and take them to Verizon to commit robbery. Witnesses in the neighborhood said that the suspects were seen shortly after the victim had died.
Many victims of serious violent crime and workplace hazards file for workman’s compensation benefits every year. Of those, some have taken the initiative to hire personal injury attorneys to handle their cases to seek additional compensation from other parties that might also be at fault for their damages.
Hiring an attorney makes sense. These cases tend to be highly complex and require the skills of a personal injury attorney who has a comprehensive understanding of Illinois tort law.
Get Sufficiently Compensated for Your Injuries
Under state law, employers must pay retail store worker’s compensation benefits to every worker suffering a minor to serious injury through the state’s workers’ comp program.
In the United States, the workers’ compensation system is a no-fault insurance plan that covers medical costs and lost wages from time missed at their work if the employee is hurt while on the job.
However, receiving monetary recovery for medical bills and lost earnings through a workers’ compensation claim is not automatic, and the process is often complicated to understand.
Our lawyers help injured workers obtain compensation under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits.
Dealing with the horrific aftermath of a workplace accident can be complex, tricky, and challenging. However, our legal team understands you and your family are already dealing with enough when it comes time to file a claim through worker’s compensation.
Our attorneys can navigate your claim through government regulations and red tape, the state’s statute of limitations, and how to prove third-party negligence in a court of law.
A seasoned lawyer from our staff could assist your family in successfully resolving your monetary compensation claim against all parties responsible for your injuries, including your employer and possibly third parties.
In addition, our law firm working on your behalf can handle every aspect of the case to ensure the appropriate documentation is filed before the Illinois statute of limitations expires.
Filing a Third-Party Lawsuit Against Other Parties Responsible for Damages
The injured store employee might be entitled to receive additional funds other than their workers’ compensation payments when others are at fault for damages.
Potential defendants in a third-party lawsuit might involve:
- Outside vendors and subcontractors
- Property owners failing to fix poor lighting
- Drivers involved in car accidents or injuries in parking lots
- Security companies
- Ice and snow removal companies
Retail workers might be subjected to serious injuries when parties other than their employer act negligently or recklessly, increasing the injury risks to everyone in the area.
In addition, a third-party claim provides extra funds over and above the benefits received through the injured victim’s workers’ compensation claim.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
All surviving family members who lost a loved one in an accident, event, or violence have a legal right to financial compensation to recover their damages. Generally, qualifying family members include the surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, and others.
A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against third parties responsible for causing the fatal workplace injury. Additionally, the family can file for workers’ compensation payments due to a workplace accident, incident, or event that claimed the life of a loved one.
In some cases, the decedent never designated who would serve as their legal representative. The judge will appoint a family member, attorney, or others to represent the decedent and the family’s best interests when this occurs.
Workers’ Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
The Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act provides workers’ compensation benefits to injured retail store workers for their medical expenses and lost wages.
The claim is filed by the deceased worker’s employer, who should have an existing contract with a worker’s comp insurance company or other coverage.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is designed to allow eligible workers to obtain money from employers, therefore reducing the burden on taxpayers for compensating fatalities caused by negligent business owners.
Workers’ compensation payments in a wrongful death case might include:
- Hospital costs and medical expenses before the victim died
- Past and current lost earnings
- Future lost earning capacity
- Funeral and burial costs
- Compensation for the pain and suffering endured by the family
- Attorney fees
Suffering injuries in a store accident, incident, or event can be very difficult, but our law firm is here to help.
Our lawyers are committed to protecting your rights through every step of the process. Therefore, we will not charge you unless your attorney collects funds from your employer or other negligent parties on your behalf.
Contact A Chicago Retail Store Workers’ Compensation & Injury Law Firm
You are not required to pay any upfront fees or retainers because our personal injury law firm accepts every workers’ compensation case and third-party claim on a contingency fee basis.
This agreement postpones all legal fees until the attorneys successfully resolve the case through a negotiated out-of-court settlement or a jury trial award.