Premises liability claims involve accidents that result from a failure of public facilities to take reasonable precautions that help to avoid personal injury and ensure the safety of individuals on the premises. In the wake of a hectic Black Friday and the current busy Christmas shopping season, there will likely be an increase in premises liability claims, with more to come if retailers do not take the proper precautions.
If you were injured in a retail establishment during Black Friday or the Christmas shopping season, consider these questions:
- Did the retailer intentionally create a chaotic environment? Sales practices that encourage extreme shopping behavior or instigate disorder can make a retailer liable for injuries. Examples include dropping coupons on a crowd of shoppers or stressing deals with extremely limited quantities.
- Were the aisles properly monitored and slipping hazards promptly cleaned up? “Slip-and-fall” lawsuits are common premises liability claims, but Black Friday can be particularly hazardous. If shoppers rip open cardboard boxes and discard debris on the floor, employees must promptly clean up the mess or they could be held liable for injuries that occur. A recent court decision indicates that if a slip-and-fall hazard is left for as little as 20 minutes, this amount of time could be long enough to establish liability.
- Did the retailer ignore exterior safety in favor of interior safety? In many cases, retailers may be negligent in ensuring the safety of the exterior of the store because they are more concerned with what is happening inside. However, accidents can happen as people are waiting for the store to open or even in the short time it takes to enter or exit the store. If parking lots aren’t kept hazard free, including cleaning up debris, salting ice, and clearing snow, this could also constitute a premises liability claim.
- Did the retailer have adequate security before opening and throughout the sale? We have all heard the horror stories of people being trampled on Black Friday, but this can usually be avoided with adequate security.
Shopping during Black Friday and the Christmas season can be a chaotic, or even dangerous, experience. However, it is the responsibility of retail establishments to take reasonable precautions in order to ensure the safety of its customers, otherwise, they could be found liable in a premises liability claim.