Millions of people slip and fall down each year in the United States. Slips and falls can happen anywhere and anytime, but retail stores are common locations for these types of accidents. Stores come in all shapes and sizes—from small boutiques to designer stores on Michigan Avenue to large “big box” stores such as Walmart or Target. No matter what the size or type of store, owners and management have the duty to keep the premises safe for their customers.
Store employees or managers can easily neglect their duties and forget to fully inspect their premises for hazards or address any dangerous conditions in timely ways. Unfortunately, this can lead unsuspecting customers to encounter a hazard and slip and fall down. In such cases, victims should hold the store fully liable for any losses and injuries stemming from the fall.
How the Holiday Rush Leads to Slips and Falls
With the holiday season upon us, many people will go shopping. Whether you are shopping for groceries to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving feast for your family or checking off your holiday gift list, the holidays can involve numerous trips to various stores. The crowds increase in almost every store, which can often cause busy and almost chaotic conditions.
Stores often increase their inventories for the holidays, which requires employees to focus on constantly stocking and restocking shelves. Lines are much longer, which means stores need more cashiers to decrease wait times. In the meantime, other duties—such as ensuring that stores are in neat and safe conditions—may fall by the wayside.
When crowds increase in stores, things can get messy. This is especially true on peak shopping days such as Black Friday. Customers may act in horrible ways in stores just to get good sale prices—and merchandise is often left strewn about throughout the day. With larger crowds and preoccupied employees, common hazards may develop.
Conditions that may cause slips and falls in stores include:
- Items out of place and on the floor
- Debris left on the floor
- Floor mats, runners, or carpets left askew
- Dirt or oily substances on the floor
- Liquid spills
- Wet floors with no warning signs
- Obstacles in walkways
For example, imagine a customer goes to put back a shirt at Target. The shirt falls off the hanger and onto the floor and the customer leaves it there. No store employee comes by that area of the store for quite some time, so the shirt remains on the floor. Later, a customer walks by—not looking at the floor—and slips on the material of the shirt. The customer falls backward, cracking a tailbone and incurring a back injury.
In the above example, the store should have regularly inspected the premises for potential hazards to customers and eliminated them. Because someone should have noticed the shirt and picked it up, a slip and fall accident victim can hold the store liable for negligence and all of the losses incurred as a result. The combination of bustling crowds and distracted employees during the holidays commonly results in such negligence cases.
How a Slip and Fall Injury Can Hurt You
Some people slip and fall, laugh about it, get up, and continue shopping. However, many slip and fall victims are not so fortunate. Instead, they suffer injuries that can significantly damage their lives. Common slip and fall injuries can have the following impacts:
- Neck and back injuries – When people fall, they often twist or wrench their backs or necks. The neck and back are both integral to movement, and injuries can make any movement extremely painful. Many people with back or neck injuries experienced severe pain and restrictions on lifting items or even getting up and walking.
- Concussion and TBI – Fall victims can easily hit their heads on floors, shelves, or other items. Any bump to the head can result in a concussion, and a serious blow can cause a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Concussions and TBIs can cause many physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems and may prevent you from working or attending school.
- Broken bones – While a broken bone may seem like a run-of-the-mill injury to some, it can keep you from participating regular activities for some time and requires medical care. Compound fractures can also require surgeries and can take as long as a year to finally heal. Some patients never fully regain their movement abilities.
- Soft tissue injuries – Even if you do not fracture a bone, your muscles, ligaments, or tendons can stretch or twist, resulting in strains, sprains, or even tears. These extremely painful injuries may require a long course of physical therapy to regain movement. Tears may need surgical repairs.
No matter what type of injury you suffer in a slip and fall, always report the fall to the store and go to the emergency department or doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis. If you incur any bills or losses due to your injury, discuss what happened with an attorney who has experience handling premises liability claims against stores. A lawyer can file a claim with the store’s insurance company or can file a personal injury lawsuit against the company if necessary.
Discuss a Possible Claim With Our Chicago Slip and Fall Attorneys
The legal team at Abels & Annes hopes you have a safe and injury-free holiday season. However, if you are involved in any type of accident, discuss your injuries and your rights with one of our lawyers as soon as possible. We will evaluate your case for free, so please call our Chicago office at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for more information today.