Shelves stacked high with merchandise is a common sight at retail stores. Stacking products makes them more accessible, saves space, and can even entice shoppers to buy more. But when merchandise is stacked too high, or is stacked improperly, it poses a safety risk for shoppers and employees. It can also expose stores to falling merchandise injury lawsuits.
When an item falls from a shelf and strikes someone, it can cause serious and possibly fatal injuries. These cases are regularly litigated in Ohio and across the United States. Over the past several months alone, Graham & Graham has handled several falling merchandise injury lawsuits against retailers. We can also help employees injured by falling items with a workers’ compensation claim.
Look Out Below: Customers Struck By Falling Merchandise
Big box retailers such as Walmart, Lowe’s, Costco, and Home Depot are notorious for packing merchandise from floor to ceiling. The warehouse shopping model adopted by many stores promises lower prices and greater selection. Many smaller retailers also purposefully pile items onto shelves and stack them in the middle of aisles as a marketing trick to get people to spend more. However, arranging items in this manner poses a risk to shoppers.
While no agency keeps statistics about the number of people injured or killed by falling merchandise, documents have come out during lawsuits that reveal some shocking numbers. For example, according to ABC News, over a five year period, Walmart reported 17,000 cases of falling merchandise that injured customers, commonly resulting in injuries to the head, neck, shoulders, and upper torso.
Two years ago, a court denied an appeal from Walmart to toss out a $1.39 million verdict issued to a Texas woman who suffered a cervical strain and a head contusion when a 15 pound box fell on her head. Stories such as this are surprisingly common. Other examples include:
- A Costco shopper alleges that he suffered irreversible brain damage when he tried to grab a package of paper towels from a display pallet and a steel rod fell on him.
- At a California Home Depot, metal boxes fell on a shopper’s head, leading to a confidential settlement.
- An Indiana woman claims that improperly stacked pavers fell and struck her at a Lowe’s store.
- A man who said he was struck by falling deck cleaner at a Big Lots store won a $1 million jury verdict.
Retail Store Legal Duties
Retail stores have a legal duty to provide a safe shopping environment for their customers. They must take measures to prevent merchandise from falling and injuring shoppers, such as training employees on proper safety measures and identifying and eliminating dangerous conditions.
Stores have a duty to protect their workers from falling objects as well. Retail industry workers have on-the-job injury rates that rival the construction industry. Although workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, navigating the claims process and ensuring recovery compensation is adequate sometimes requires assistance from a workers’ compensation lawyer.
What To Do If You Are Struck By Falling Merchandise
If an item fell off the shelf and injured you, you may have a personal injury claim against the store. Since the retailer is likely to dispute your claim, you’ll need to build a solid case against them. Take a picture of the accident scene and the fallen merchandise that struck you. You should also file an incident report with the store as soon as possible. And once you’re out of harm’s way and have receive medical treatment, contact Graham & Graham law firm to discuss what happened. It costs nothing to talk about your case with our lawyers, and we represent injury victims on a contingency-fee basis, so you pay no hourly fees. Call 1-800-621-8585 or Contact Us online.