When shopping for clothing, shoes, toys, electronics and household goods, shoppers do not think they are in danger. However, even though many shopping-related accidents may be minor, there are more serious injuries including broken bones, sprains, head trauma, neck injury, spinal injury and even death.
A tragedy struck in Georgia which was reported by 11Alive. A 2-year-old child died from injuries received at a Payless Shoe store in Riverdale after a store fixture fell on her head. The little girl was shopping with her mother when she was severely injured shortly after 8 p.m. when, police said, a mounted mirror fell on her.
Fox News said, “The toddler, who was trying on shoes with her mother before the incident, was rushed to the hospital where she later died. The family is asking for the store to ensure shelves and mirrors are secure to prevent another tragedy.”
In October 2017 a woman filed a lawsuit against Apple after she was injured in an Apple Store in Florida. In the court documents the accident was described as being caused by the “dangerous metal wall fixtures” at the store in Wellington, Florida. While visiting the store to have her iPhone repaired, an Apple employee was attempting to get an iPhone case from the wall, when a sharp metal shelf fell on the customer’s left arm. The suit pointed out that Apple was “responsible for the incident, indicating not only that the company failed to warn customers of the danger, but also that it was negligent when allowing staff to handle the equipment,” according to Softpedia News.
Common causes of accidents involving customer and employee injuries and displays.
CED Technologies Incorporated, founded by Dr. Clyde Richard former professor at the United States Naval Academy teaching human factors and mechanical design, says the common causes of these types of accidents are:
- Instability or poor balance of the fixture after assembly, poor weight distribution and/or overloaded weight capacity of the fixture after assembly
- Improper assembly of the fixture based on manufacturer instructions, empty end caps, poor or no visibility of the base of the fixture
- Sharp ended display hooks
- Improper or overloading of merchandise onto the fixture
- Damaged components of a fixture
Experts say that many retailers take a reactive, not a proactive, approach when dealing with customer safety. Often they refuse to correct known issues until after an accident occurs.
Retailers’ legal responsibility
Retail stores have a duty of care and must do everything reasonably possible to ensure their customers are safe from dangerous conditions that might result in injuries.
How do you prove a retailer is negligent?
Proving a retail storeowner was negligent has specific criteria. Even though the law demands a “duty of care”, it is up to the injured customer to prove the retailer failed in this duty. According to Florida law, to prove a retailer was legally responsible for a shopper’s injuries, the following must be established:
- The store owner knew (or should have known) about a dangerous condition on his/her property;
- The store owner did not regularly inspect the store for dangers, or provide adequate maintenance;
- The shopper would not have been injured if there was not a dangerous condition on the property;
- There was a relation between the dangerous condition and the shopper's injury, and
- The shopper suffered actual "damages" as a result of it.
“If you or a loved one is injured as the result of an accident in a retail establishment, contact our office 24/7. We have the experience to determine your rights and assist you with your case,” said Fort Myers Personal Injury Lawyer, Randall Spivey.
Fort Myers Personal Injury Lawyer, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by less than 2 percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 1,500 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239. 337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839, or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.