Despite good faith efforts to maintain safe operations, a retail store can be sued for personal injuries suffered by customers while using the store. Most often, personal injury claims relate to slip and fall accidents resulting from structural defects, weather hazards, and other issues giving rise to a premise liability claim. Whatever your claim, the burden is typically on the party who is suing for damages.
What Do I Need to Prove My Slip and Fall Claim?
If the injury occurred while you were the store, the court will look at whether the store owed a duty of care to you. That will hinge on whether the court determines you had a legal presence in the store as a visitor, invitee, or licensee. Depending on the circumstances, some negligence claims may be established even if you were a trespasser.
Once you have established that you were owed a duty of care, you must show there was a dangerous condition in the store (i.e. wet floors), the store knew about the condition but failed to timely remedy the condition, and your injuries occurred because the store breached its duty to you.
What Other Types of Claims Can I Sue the Retail Stores For?
Retail store injuries can result in various types of lawsuits and legal claims. These can involve issues such as:
- Store Security: While store personnel may reasonably detain a customer who is shoplifting, they do not have the right to use excessive force in doing so;
- Defective Products: In addition to suing others along in the chain, you can sue the retail store for injuries caused by the store selling defective products;
- Falling Objects: Whether due to falling snow from the roof or a precariously placed product on the top shelf, accidents will occur. Stores may make every effort to reduce such customer injuries, but a customer may be entitled to sue the store for injuries that result from the store’s negligence; and
- Runaway Objects: Stores have designated spaces to return shopping carts, baskets, scooters and other equipment loaned to the customer to help their shopping experiences. Even with these in place, an unattended cart that rolls into a customer or into their vehicle can cause injuries for which the store may be held liable.
What are Some Legal Remedies Available in a Retail Store Lawsuit?
There are a range of damages that are available to you if you succeed in your lawsuit against a retail store. Much of this can vary across states so you should consult with an expert in your jurisdiction.
Typically, you can claim general and special compensatory damages. These awards include compensation for losses, fees and expenses relating to your injuries, such as medical expenses, lost wages, costs to repair property, costs for permanent disability, emotional distress injuries, loss of consortium, funeral expenses and cost for continuing medical treatment.
The court also may order that the retail store implement new policies, training or procedures to prevent similar accidents in the future.
Can the Retail Store Assert Any Defenses Against Me?
The answer to this depends on the specific facts surrounding your injuries and what your state allows. A common defense asserted by retail stores is that the plaintiff was comparatively or contributorily negligent in causing their own injuries. What this means is that the plaintiff took some action that was at least partially the cause of the injuries they sustained.
For example, if the plaintiff decided to climb onto the highest shelf instead of calling a store employee and was injured when the item or the shelf fell on them, the store may argue that the plaintiff contributed to their own injuries.
Another common defense is to assert that the plaintiff failed to mitigate (lessen) damages. Imagine that a plaintiff fell in the store but refused medical assistance when offered by the store and later developed a serious infection that caused them to lose their leg. The store may argue that the plaintiff failed to mitigate their damages by declining medical attention in the first place.
What Should Be Done in the Event of a Retail Store Injury?
Your case may rise and fall on good recordkeeping. If you sought medical attention, keep copies of any medical invoices, receipts, communications or reports in a safe location.
If you missed days from work because of your injuries, ask for documentation from your supervisor or human resource department. Also, if you filed a police report or the store wrote out an incident report, you should request that as well.
Should I Contact an Attorney about Suing a Retail Store?
If you have been injured because of the action taken or failed to be taken by a retail store, you may be entitled to assert a claim for damages. You might consider contacting a local personal injury attorney who can help you understand your rights and what damages are allowed under the laws of your state.