Injured While Holiday Shopping? Here’s What You Should Know
It’s no secret that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day for retailers across the nation, but it is just one of many busy shopping days that occur before the holidays. In fact, Super Saturday–the Saturday before Christmas–on through until the 23rd of December are often considered the most active in terms of shopping.
And when packed venues get active, the risks of injury increase. While looking back at data tabulated between 2016 and 2017, Amino found that roughly 2,400 individuals who were holiday shopping between that time frame were injured in shopping malls.
Businesses owe their customers a duty of safety, and if it is breached, they could be held liable. Since your McAllen premises liability attorneys at De La Garza Law Firm always have your health and best interest at heart, we compiled all the information we know throughout years of legal experience in premises liability should you or a loved one sustain an injury while shopping during this holiday season.
1. Stores Owe a Duty of Care to Their Guests
Most business owners owe their customers a great deal of safety once they enter their store, but, sadly, accidents caused by negligence can happen regardless. Duty of care is a legal obligation to avoid causing harm to others. Store and business owners must do everything reasonably possible to ensure their customer’s safety from certain dangerous conditions.
Any guest in a store is considered an invitee. This means that they are entitled to safety from undue harm while they are on store property. For the sake of clarity, store property includes everything from the parking lot and walkways to display areas and checkout lanes.
Being considered an invitee isn’t exclusive to customers, however. An individual can be in the store to simply browse the store’s wares, apply for a job, or return a product. At the same time, individuals don’t have to be a direct employee of the store to be entitled to safety, including contractors, truck drivers, and wholesalers.
Breaching that duty of care is negligence, and that makes a storeowner responsible for the victim’s damages, whether they are medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses for medications, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
2. Types of Shopping Accidents and Their Common Causes
Any injury that you sustain while in a store, mall, or retail establishment is a “shopping injury”. Most shopping injuries are minor and don’t require hospitalization, but more serious injuries can occur that cause broken bones, head trauma, traumatic brain injury, sprains, neck injury, spinal injury, and, in some cases, death.
If we as consumers are not careful, shopping during a busy holiday season only makes it more likely that you could be injured in:
- Slip and Falls – Spilled liquids, icy sidewalks, torn carpets, insufficient lighting, and faulty escalators are all likely causes of these types of accidents, causing severe injuries.
- Head and Body Injuries – Merchandise falling from shelves, flimsy retail displays, out-of-reach objects, jagged shelves and bookcases, or other accidents can occur that can cause head and traumatic brain injuries.
- Shopping Cart Injuries – Injury sustained from falling because of a cart tipping over.
- Overcrowding Injuries – Trampling injuries, and even death, are common in over-crowded areas particularly during heavy traffic shopping days like Black Friday.
- Parking Lot Injuries – Damaged or improperly designed parking lots; distracted, impaired, or negligent drivers; underlit parking lots; and failure to remove ice and snow are all likely causes to sustaining an injury in a parking lot.
If any of the aforementioned injuries were inflicted upon you or someone you love, know that the McAllen slip and fall lawyers at De La Garza Law Firm can help you fight for your recovery.
3.What to Do If You’re in a Shopping Accident
If you’re injured this holiday season, there are a few very important steps you will need to take in order to file a premises liability claim for damages:
1. Prove store or business owner liability.
In order to prove that a store or its owner is liable for your injury, you need to prove negligence. To illustrate this, a store or business owner could be held liable if:
- A dangerous condition caused your injuries.
- The retailer knew or should have known about the danger.
- The retailer failed to eliminate or repair the situation.
- You didn’t do anything to contribute to the injury.
- The dangerous condition itself is what caused your injuries.
- Your injuries and resulting damages are real.
- The dangerous condition wasn’t open and obvious to customers.
2. Gather critical evidence.
When filing a premises liability claim, it’s important that you gather and document evidence. This will help prove your claim and receive damages.
First, you should seek prompt medical attention. Calling 911 if the injury is serious enough or simply going to see a doctor as soon as possible is integral to linking the dangerous accident to your injury. Documentation is absolutely necessary. Delaying medical attention after your accident can weaken your claim considerably.
Next, you should get an incident report. To do this, you can ask a store manager or the owner for a report on the accident. If they can’t give a copy of the report to you, they should at least send a copy to their insurance.
Speaking of which, be sure to get their insurance information including the name and contact information. You could also confirm with the company that their insurance will contact you. You should provide your name, address, email, and phone numbers.
After that, you should look for witnesses. You should ask any employees or customers who saw the accident for their names and contact information. If you can, get a written account from a sympathetic witness, and be sure they sign and date the document.
You should also take plenty of pictures and/or videos. Focus on the accident scene and dangerous conditions. Also, be sure to keep a photographic history of your treatment and recovery. If you can’t take pictures soon enough after your accident, ask someone for help.
Be sure during the whole process to keep your paperwork organized. Important paperwork could include any of the following:
- Copies of medical records
- Medical bills
- Verification of lost wages
- Any communication with insurance
3. Consider legal help.
Lastly, whether or not you need legal help after a shopping accident depends largely on the extent of the injury. Some minor injuries can be settled with insurance. These are called soft-tissue injuries and generally don’t require hospitalization. You should be able to successfully negotiate a fair settlement for a soft-tissue injury without legal help.
In order to best negotiate a fair settlement, you should first determine the worth of your claim. This means you should collect and hand over your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and any other expenses associated with the injury to a trusted premises liability attorney. The monetary value of your pain and suffering is generally one or two times the total of other expenses combined.
Once you’ve established the worth of your claim, you should put your demands into writing. With your demands, enclose copies of your bills, receipts, and all other evidence.
In cases involving more serious or “hard” injuries, you should consider seeking legal counsel. “Hard” injuries include head trauma, deep wounds, broken bones, and serious neck and back injuries. In cases like this, a premises liability attorney can stand as an intermediary between you and the insurance companies.
Unsurprisingly, insurance companies want to avoid paying out large settlements. Insurance claims adjuster and corporate lawyers will also try to reduce or deny your claim, and they may even claim that you share the blame for your injury.
Fight for the Compensation You Deserve With De La Garza Law Firm By Your Side
The holidays should be a time of joy and giving, not suffering and lamenting over an injury that you sustained through no fault of your own. Should an accident occur, however, you don’t have to suffer alone.
The decisions you make following an accident can affect your whole financial future. There is simply too much at stake not to seek out a consultation with a personal injury lawyer in McAllen from the De La Garza Law Firm. We have helped many clients get the financial relief they need after experiencing