A shopping injury or shopping-related injury occurs when a person is injured while on premises that are owned by a business or retail distributor. Every year, shopping injuries account for thousands of personal injury claims in the U.S.
Shopping injuries typically occur as a result of a store owner’s failure to keep their store safe. They may also occur as a result of a failure to warn a customer of dangerous or unsafe conditions in the store.
What Are Some Common Types of Shopping Injuries?
Perhaps the most common type of shopping injury is a slip and fall accident, resulting in neck or back injury. Slip and fall injuries are almost always due to neglected floor conditions, such as wet, slippery floors, or a failure to clean a food/drink spill.
Some other common types or causes of injuries that may occur during shopping include:
- Shopping carts: A customer can sometimes be injured by a cart tipping over, or by being struck with a cart by another shopper. Shopping carts can also cause property damage to vehicles in the parking lot.
- Head, neck, back: May result from falling objects, unsafe retail displays, out-of-reach items, or other types of mishaps.
- Elevators or escalators: Faulty elevators or escalators are a common cause of shopping injuries. Individual retailers may be liable, or common elevators may lead to shopping mall liability, or even a claim for a manufacturing defect.
- Overcrowding: Stores can often become overcrowded during peak shopping seasons or days, such as “Black Friday” or Memorial Day sales. Long waiting lines can lead to instances of trampling or other mob-type injuries.
- Unkempt parking lot: Injuries may result from poor parking lot conditions, such as a failure to clear snow, or a poorly designed parking scheme. Violations of handicap parking laws may also create unsafe conditions.
Thus, the term “shopping injury” generally applies to injuries that are sustained by a person during the act of shopping. Shopping injuries do not necessarily involve a defective product or products liability- these are covered by other state laws.
What is Required to Prove a Shopping-Related Personal Injury?
Persons who are injured while shopping may be able to recover damages for their losses and for the costs associated with their injury. Legal claims for shopping-related injuries are usually based on a negligence theory or a premises liability theory.
The type of evidence required to prove a shopping injury may vary according to the type of injury, as well as the laws of the state involved. In general, it is required to prove that the retailer breached their duty of care to the shopper, and that the breach of care was the direct cause of the person’s injury.
Also, the injured party must not have contributed to their own injury through recklessness or a failure to heed warnings. If the injured party had contributed in some way to their own injury, it may reduce the amount that they can recover, or it may prevent recovery altogether.
Finally, it must be shown that the retailer does not have any valid defenses to the personal injury claim. Some common defenses that a retailer can raise include consent, waiver, and contributory negligence.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Shopping Injury Claim?
If you have suffered an injury while shopping, you should strongly consider hiring a personal injury lawyer for advice and legal representation. Be sure to support your claim by keeping tabs on medical documents and witness accounts of the incident. Your attorney can help compile the appropriate information to increase the chances of your claim’s success.