Most of us have been to the large warehouse stores that have merchandise stacked up in towering shelving, sometimes dozens of feet above the floor level. This is convenient and cost effective for these large stores, eliminating the need for additional storage or a warehouse to keep inventory in. However, when this merchandise is inadequately secured, it poses a serious risk to the unsuspecting patrons shopping below if– or when the boxes fall onto customers below.
Prevalence Of Falling Merchandise Injuries At Large Retailers & Warehouse Chain Stores
There is not a system mandated by the government to collect information on consumer accidents, making the exact number of falling merchandise injuries unknown. However, there have been many articles, TV news shows and extensive litigation on this topic, lending some reasonable estimates on the prevalence of these accidents. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is familiar with the merchandising practices at such large stores as: Costco, Home Depot, Lowe's, Target and Walmart.
A white paper produced by the Roderick Retail Safety Institute in 2009, written by Dr. Larry Roderick, Ph.D., P.E., gives a conservative estimate of 750,000 customer accidents annually in the U.S. How many of these are from falling merchandise is difficult to determine. In another article in the journal Professional Safety, March 2002 issue, the journalist uses data reported by two warehouse stores to estimate that these incidents happen tens of thousands of times per year. One chain reportedly admitted to almost 10,000 accidents per year, while another reported close to 6,000 a year.
Injuries From Falling Merchandise Sustained By Customers
While there have been many people who have been crushed by large pallets or objects falling from the “sky shelving” that these warehouse stores use, it is not just the large or heavy objects that are hazardous to those below. Velocity lends force to an item as it falls, making even a small object dangerous. For example, an eight-pound bowling ball dropped four feet will have the “weight” of a 400 lb stationary object.
The danger in these accidents is that the first place an item is likely to strike is the head of the victim. As previously discussed, even a small item can have a large impact and injuries to the head can be extremely dangerous. However, there are many different possible injuries that can occur from falling merchandise:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Fractured bones (see here)
- Crush injuries (look here)
- Bruises or contusions
Responsibility of Stores to Protect Customers From Injuries From Falling Merchandise
Businesses have a duty to provide a safe environment for their customers and employees. Falling merchandise is a clear case of what is considered a premise liability issue. By not properly securing the merchandise, the business is not protecting those in the store from possible injury and in most cases will be found financially liable for injuries. In these cases, customers that are injured may receive a monetary award to cover medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.Falling Merchandise Injury Lawyers
If you or a family member has been injured or if you have lost a loved one in a falling merchandise accident in Illinois, you deserve to be compensated for your loss. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers understands the impact an injury or wrongful death can have on a family and we are here to fight for your rights within the law. Our team is experienced in handling Illinois premise liability cases and will do everything in our power to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Your initial consultation is free and no fee is ever charged unless we obtain a financial award for your case.
Resources on stocking tips and merchandise fall protection: