If a retail establishment cannot provide you with a safe place to shop, you may be entitled to damages for their negligence. It may be every shopper's responsibility to take care when out in public, but in some cases, the liability (fault) for the accident lies with the store itself. Read on to learn more about how to deal with accidents while shopping.
The Burden of Responsibility
Stores are charged with ensuring a safe, hazard-free environment for shoppers and they are expected to do that by policing for potential hazards and warning patrons in a timely manner of hazards. For example, a store using an electrical cord that crosses a patron's path must ensure that it is property taped down and does not present a tripping hazard. A spill in a grocery store isle that has not been completely cleaned up warrants some hazard cones to alert shoppers of the wet and slippery floor in that area. Some other common retail hazards include:
- Large displays of stacked products, like cans, in the middle of a shopping aisle.
- Walking hazards such as wrinkled mats, uneven tiles and spilled liquids.
- Ice and snow that has been allowed to accumulate in the parking lot.
- Little to no lighting in the parking lots, resulting in crimes against patrons.
The Customer's Share of Responsibility
If the retail store has done its part, the patrons must also participate in using due care. It is simply not possible for stores to foresee every single hazard, so patrons bear at least part of the responsibility for being observant enough to note obvious hazards and avoid them. For example, most patrons would expect to see wet floors near an entrance to a store on a rainy day. Keeping the floors completely dry is not practical in some cases, so if the store has done its part by placing warning cones near the wet areas, customers are expected to do their part by being more careful in those areas. In cases where both parties share some of the fault for an accident, the compensation for the victim will likely be reduced.
Take Action Quickly
If you have been injured in an accident in a retail store, be sure to speak to the manager on duty as soon as possible and file an accident report with the store. In some instances, the store may authorize a settlement offer right away, especially if the store seems to be clearly at fault.
If you've been injured in a retail store and are not happy with the way the incident is being handled, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to help you get the compensation and medical benefits to which you are eligible.