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Protect Yourself from Injury during the Holiday Shopping Season

Daniel Klosowski

undefinedIt has once again reached the time of year to find holiday gifts for loved ones and friends. While some of us have moved much of our holiday shopping to online retailers, some of the in-store doorbuster deals are too enticing to pass up. Malls and department stores can be potentially hazardous locations especially during the holiday season. It’s a good idea to know about these potential hazards before venturing out for the perfect gifts.

A shopping injury occurs when a person is injured while on premises owned by a business. Often times these injuries happen because the business owner has failed to keep the premises safe. The owner also may not have warned a customer about dangerous conditions in the store. The most common types of shopping injuries are slip and fall or trip and fall accidents. These accidents can result in head, neck or back injuries, or even injuries to the limbs. These injuries are most often caused by neglected floor conditions. These include; wet, slippery floors caused by people tracking in snow or ice, spilled food or drink not being cleaned up in a timely fashion, worn or torn carpeting, or broken floor tiles. Individuals can suffer severe injuries from these types of accidents.

There are other common hazards in stores than can cause significant injuries. In grocery stores, shopping carts can tip over or someone may be struck with a shopping cart being pushed by anothercustomer. Retail displays can be unsafe as well. These can tip over and cause head, neck, or body injuries. People can also be injured while trying to grab out-of-reach items from shelves or racks. Malfunctioning elevators and escalators have been known to cause injuries to customers. During the winter season especially, parking lots can be dangerous because of snow and ice that is not cleared properly. Finally, even though Black Friday is now behind us, post-Black Friday, Winter Solstice, pre-Christmas Eve, and whatever other sales retailers can come up with still loom and can create overcrowding in stores. This can result in customers being trampled or suffering other mob-related injuries.

This year has been no exception when it comes to injuries occurring on Black Friday. At a Kohl’s store in Romeoville, IL, a police officer was injured when he was dragged by the vehicle of a shoplifting suspect. The driver of the vehicle was shot in the left arm by another police officer who was taking action to stop the vehicle. There were other stories of people being shot, stabbed, or assaulted during the Black Friday shopping experience. There is even a website called BlackFridayDeathCount.com which tracks injuries and deaths across the country that occur on Black Friday. For 2013, the website reported 15 injuries and 1 death of a 19-year old boy who fell asleep at the wheel while driving home from Black Friday shopping.

People who are injured while shopping can potentially recover damages for the losses and costs associated with the injury. Negligence and premises liability theories are the most common legal bases for these types of personal injury claims. A retailer owes a duty of care to customers that visit their store. The injured shopper must present evidence to prove that the duty of care the retailer owes to the shopper was breached in some way. The injured shopper must also show that this breach was the direct cause of their injury. A shopping injury case will not be successful if the shopper contributed to their own injury by being reckless or not heeding warnings about an unsafe condition. This contributory negligence can reduce the amount of an award or prevent recovery altogether. If you have suffered a shopping injury, it is important to contact a competent personal injury attorney to look at the facts of your specific situation and see if they meet the legal burden that is required for recovery.

Remember to watch out for potential shopping hazards and have a safe and happy holiday season!

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