Injuries from Falling Merchandise in a Store
Most people in the United States routinely shop in superstores, largely because they can find everything they need under one roof and because the prices are low. There is a darker side, however, to warehouse and superstores, and some believe they may be downright dangerous. At stores like Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Sam’s and Home Depot, heavy merchandise is routinely stacked high in the air. In those stores that allow forklifts to operate during store hours, the hazards increase exponentially. In 1999, three separate tragic accidents in Home Depot stores resulted in three deaths, one a three-year old girl. In one of those accidents, a 79-year old woman was shopping in a Los Angeles Home Depot when a heavy box was knocked from an upper shelf by a 19-year-old forklift operator. The box struck and killed the woman in front of her daughter.
The television show, 20/20 presented hidden-camera footage taken at several Home Depot stores across the U.S., which showed safety measures were often neglected. Customers were allowed to walk dangerously close to working forklifts, and aisles were rarely closed off. Additional hazards included ladders and doors leaning against aisles with nothing to stop them from falling onto customers, heavy boxes were left hanging perilously close to the edge of high shelves, and restraining bars, mean to hold lumber in place were left dangling. Home Depot is not the only offender. Many big-box stores such as Kmart, Toys ‘R’ Us, PetSmart, Costco and Staples, in addition to the above stores operate on the premise that warehousing as much merchandise in the store, is the best way to make money. The following negligent practices by large stores can lead to serious repercussions for consumers:
- Stacking merchandise fifteen feet or more up in the air. When merchandise is stacked this high, unstable box and merchandise conditions result.
- Lack of warnings regarding the potential hazards of stacked merchandise. Particularly when merchandise is being stocked or removed, aisles should be cordoned off and warning signs posted.
- Lack of physical safety devices to restrain merchandise. Security bars, safety ties and fencing should be used to ensure all stacked merchandise is properly restrained.
- Lack of proper training and supervision for store employees. Merchandise can fall off high shelves because it was improperly stacked by employees who were not trained on the safest way to stack.
- Store managers who don’t take the responsibility of ensuring merchandise stacked on shelves is done so in a safe manner.
What to Do Following an Accident Involving Falling Merchandise
If you have been injured in an accident involving falling merchandise, there are several things you can do immediately following the accident in order to increase your chances of a more positive outcome.
- First, always receive immediate medical attention, even if you don’t think your injuries are that serious.
- If possible, take photos of the accident scene with your smartphone, or have someone else take the photos. If you wait, the hazard which was responsible for your accident could be removed, and the store could claim the accident was your own fault.
- As soon as possible, write down all the details and facts surrounding your accident. Memories fade, and the best way to help your attorney is to keep a comprehensive record of the circumstances surrounding your accident.
- If you are contacted by an insurance company do not give them a statement until you have spoken with an experienced Mississippi personal injury attorney.
- Keep a photographic record of your injuries as they heal, as well as a file with all expenses related to your medical treatments.
- Hire a knowledgeable Mississippi personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Once you have your attorney on board, make sure you tell him or her the entire story, omitting nothing. Your attorney can only help you when all the facts are available.
Liability for Mississippi Falling Merchandise Injuries
Whether you were injured at a superstore, a big-box store or any commercial business, that business is legally bound to take certain measures to ensure the safety of its customers. The premises must be safe, with no unreasonable risk of injury to customers and visitors. The property must be regularly inspected for dangers, and any risks found must be immediately corrected.
Shelves must be deep enough and wide enough to support the merchandise, and the merchandise must never be stacked in a manner which results in a significant risk of it tipping and falling. Anchoring devices should always be used, and shelves should be checked on a regular basis to ensure the merchandise is stored in a safe manner. Should a store fail to meet its legal duty, it can be held liable for any injuries resulting from a breach of that duty. The store will thus be liable for paying the costs of your medical expenses, lost wages, physical rehabilitation and pain and suffering.
Speak to a Southaven Injury Attorney
If you have suffered injury as a result of being struck by merchandise which fell from a shelf, it can be extremely important to speak to an experienced Southaven personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Injuries which occur from being struck by falling merchandise can be extremely serious. Having an experienced attorney from Stroud, Flechas & Dalton by your side from the very beginning can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Our attorneys will handle the insurance company and all the legal details surrounding your accident, allowing you time to heal. Call Stroud, Flechas & Dalton at (662) 536-5656. Our attorneys will treat you with respect and compassion and will work hard on your behalf to get you the best result possible.