Anyone who has gone to the mall on a Friday evening knows how dreadful and even downright threating the crowds can be—groups of teenagers everywhere, 20-somethings plowing through the crowds to grab the latest fashions for the weekend, parents shopping for whatever relatives have birthdays or parties coming up.
But now that holiday season is in full swing, running the mall gauntlet is riskier than ever. At this time of year, it’s important for consumers and storeowners alike to remember that stores are responsible for the safety of their shoppers—if accidents happen on company property, the storeowner or manager could be held accountable.
Problems to Look Out For
During the holidays, the decorative lengths that some stores will go to for the sake of festivity can sometimes be outright hazardous. Because of this, shoppers should be on their guard even more than usual, and should look out for potentially dangerous situations. Some of these situations include:
Crowds. Of course, there are always crowds in malls and stores. Around the holidays, though, the crowds are bigger, stronger, and more excitable than at any other time of the year. With so many people crammed into such small spaces, it can be easy for consumers to become disoriented and wind up injured. In addition to being hazardous in and of themselves, crowds can be distracting and can divert peoples’ attention away from other potential hazards in the store.
Potential for slips and falls. Around the holidays, the risks of slip and fall accidents seem to be everywhere. Decorations that some stores place on their floors (e.g., confetti or fake snow) can make floors more slippery and therefore more dangerous. Furthermore, winter weather can sometimes lead to slippery patches on steps or in doorways, which can be extremely risky.
Oversized displays. Certain stores seize the opportunity presented by the holiday season to go above-and-beyond with decorations like giant Christmas trees, oversized menorahs, or enormous “Happy Holidays!” signs spanning entire ceilings. Often, these decorations can be delightful for shoppers and store employees alike—they can be beautiful, fun, and fill shoppers with holiday spirit. But as nice as they are, they can be dangerous as well. If decorations are improperly rigged or positioned incorrectly, they can cause injury to shoppers.
Given all the potential hazards that surround shoppers during the holiday season, it’s important for customers to always be aware of their surroundings and remain on their guard.
What If You’re Injured in a Store?
“Duty of care” laws state that retail stores are required to take all possible measures (within reason) to ensure that their customers are kept safe. In the unfortunate event that you sustain injuries in a store, this means that storeowners or managers can be held accountable.
If you are injured in a retail store and decide to take legal action against the storeowner, the first step will be to prove negligence. To do so, you must prove that the following elements were in place:
- Your injuries were caused by dangerous conditions in the store
- The store was aware, or should have been aware, of these conditions
- The store acted negligently in addressing these dangerous conditions
- Your injuries were not your own fault
- Your injuries were caused as a direct result of the store’s dangerous conditions
- Your injuries are legitimate
Because of the complexities of going to legal battle with stores, store owners, or corporations, it’s always best to consult with a qualified lawyer before taking any action.
Of course, it is best to try to avoid these dangerous situations entirely. While perusing stores this holiday season, remember to use caution. Wear shoes that are easy to walk in, be careful when navigating through the crowds, be on the lookout for potentially unsafe areas that might be slippery, and stay away from decorations that look dangerous, like overly large signs or displays that could fall.
Sometimes, though, no matter how careful you are, accidents can find you—even during the holidays and even at major retail stores where things are supposed to be safe and welcoming. Remember that all retailers are responsible for the safety of their shoppers.
If you sustain an injury as a result of a storeowner’s negligence, don’t just assume that the business will do the right thing and pay for your medical expenses while taking steps to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. Make sure that others are protected and you get the justice you deserve by contacting a qualified legal professional at The South Florida Injury Law Firm as soon as possible.