How to Sue a Retail Store

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 Can I Sue for Injuries I Suffered While at a Retail Store?

In legal terms, negligence is the theory that allows injured people to recover for the carelessness of others. Alternatively, a person is negligent if they were careless given the circumstances of the situation. The most obvious example of negligence is personal injury, like a car crash. However, negligence may also be described as a flexible idea. It can appear in many contexts. Emotional harm, like PTSD, developing due to negligent conduct is also cause for a lawsuit.

Retail store negligence generally results in personal injuries suffered by customers while using the store, or while on the store’s premises. Personal injury claims commonly relate to slip and fall accidents, resulting from structural defects, weather hazards, and other issues. This gives rise to a premise liability claim with the burden of proof typically on the party who is suing for damages.

What Do I Need to Prove My Slip and Fall Claim?

The term slip and fall accident is a general term used to refer to several different personal injury claims. These occur when someone slips or falls on another person’s property due to the presence of some kind of dangerous condition. This dangerous condition could be almost anything, such as poor lighting or broken handrails to a staircase. When someone is injured in a slip and fall accident, they could have grounds for a premise liability claim.

Slip and fall laws vary according to the laws of a state. However, there are some common legal grounds that all state statutes take into consideration. An example of this would be that a person typically has to prove that the property owner was somehow negligent. Once the plaintiff has established that they were owed a duty of care, they must prove that there was a dangerous condition in the store.

An example of this could be wet floors. The store must have known about the condition, but failed to remedy the condition in a timely manner. Additionally, their injuries must have occurred because the store breached its duty to them.

In terms of retail store negligence, if the injury occurred while the plaintiff was in the store, the court will look at whether the store owed a duty of care to them. This is dependent on whether the court determines that the plaintiff had a legal presence in the store as a visitor, invitee, or licensee. Additionally, some negligence claims may be established even if the plaintiff were a trespasser, depending on the circumstances.

Some specific types of evidence that could help with a plaintiff’s case include:

  • Security camera footage;
  • Witness statements; and/or,
  • Doctor’s notes and hospital records.

What Other Types of Claims Can I Sue the Retail Stores For?

Although slip and fall claims are the most common personal injury claims against retail stores, injuries sustained in a retail store can result in various types of lawsuits and legal claims. Some examples include but may not be limited to:

  • Store Security: Store personnel may reasonably detain a customer who is shoplifting; however, such acts must generally be performed in a reasonable manner, and not violate any of the patron’s basic rights. They do not have the right to use excessive force in doing so. Lack of store security resulting in a plaintiff’s injuries is another example of a claim for which a retail store may be sued;
  • Defective Products: An injured plaintiff may sue the retail store for injuries caused by the store selling defective products. A defective product can be defined as any product that is unreasonably dangerous when being used for its intended purpose, without any alterations or interference. Additionally, a defective product is one that causes injury to a person due to either a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a marketing defect;
  • Falling Objects: Some examples of falling objects could include falling snow from the roof, or an unstable product on the top shelf. Retail stores may make every effort to reduce customer injuries such as these, but a plaintiff may be entitled to sue the store for injuries that result from the store’s negligence; and/or
  • Runaway Objects: Most retail stores have designated spaces in which to return shopping carts, baskets, scooters, etc. Even when a store takes such measures, a runaway cart that rolls into a customer or into their vehicle can cause injuries. The store could be held liable for such injuries.

What Are Some Legal Remedies Available in a Retail Store Lawsuit?

The damages available to a plaintiff in a retail store lawsuit will vary widely, based on state laws as well as the specific circumstances of each case. In general, the injured party can claim general and/or special compensatory damages. This is a form of financial compensation from the party responsible for causing the injury, and can include:

  • Compensation for losses;
  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Costs associated with the repair of damaged property;
  • Costs for permanent disability;
  • Emotional distress injuries;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Funeral expenses; and/or
  • Costs for ongoing medical treatment.

A court also may order that the retail store is to implement new policies, training, and/or procedures to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Can the Retail Store Assert Any Defenses Against Me?

A commonly utilized defense by retail stores is that the plaintiff was somehow comparatively or contributorily negligent in causing their own injuries. Meaning, the plaintiff took some action that caused them to be at least partially responsible for the injuries they sustained.

An example of this would be if the plaintiff climbed onto the highest shelf, instead of calling a store employee, and was injured when the item or the shelf fell on them. The store could argue that the plaintiff contributed to their own injuries.

Another common defense is to claim that the plaintiff failed to mitigate (reduce) damages. An example of this would be if a plaintiff fell in the store, but refused medical assistance when offered by the store. They later develop a serious infection which causes them to lose their leg. The store could argue that the plaintiff failed to mitigate their damages by declining medical attention in the first place.

What Are the Steps to Take When Suing a Retail Store for Injuries?

In order to file a claim, you must first ensure that you have adequate evidence to support your claim. If you sought medical attention because of the incident, you should maintain any medical invoices, receipts, and/or communications. If you missed any days of work, you should request documentation from your supervisor or human resources department. Additionally, if you filed a police report, you should request a copy of that report. The same is true if the store filed an incident report of their own.

An experienced personal injury attorney, especially one that specializes in store injuries, such as a store injury lawyer, could help you gather and organize all of the necessary evidence for a successful lawsuit against the retail store. Additionally, an experienced store injury lawyer will help you make sure that any video evidence or other evidence recorded by the retail store is preserved, and not destroyed according to their video retention policies, etc.

Can I Sue a Store for Discrimination?

In short, yes. Although privately owned businesses maintain the right to refuse service, this right does not cover discrimination. Discrimination occurs when a person is mistreated because of their belonging to a protected class. Examples of protected classes include:

  • Race and/or national origin;
  • Gender and/or sexuality;
  • Disability, including pregnancy; and,
  • Religion.

If you can prove that the retail store discriminated against you, you may be entitled to damages should you bring a suit against them.

Should I Contact an Attorney about Suing a Retail Store?

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a retail store, you should immediately consult with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights, as well as your state’s laws regarding the matter.

They can also help you gather evidence and file a lawsuit against the retail store on your behalf. Finally, an attorney can also represent you in court, as necessary.


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