As consumers, we count on “big box stores” like Walmart, Target, Big Lots, Home Depot, Sam’s Club, Costco, Fry’s, and Safeway for just about everything we need. We should also be able to count on them to provide us with a safe shopping environment. Unfortunately, big box stores are notorious for putting profits over safety. This means they don’t always take the proper precautions to keep shoppers safe. Customers who are picking up a few things on their way home are often exposed to hazards like:
- Loose floor mats
- Cracked parking lots
- Wet floors
- Falling objects
What should be a quick and easy errand can easily lead to a serious long-term injury when big box stores fail to prioritize a safe shopping and working environment.
If you were injured at a big box store in Phoenix, Arizona, you may be eligible to recover compensation for any damages you may have suffered. The attorneys at Abels & Annes have decades of experience taking on the biggest companies in the country. And we are ready to put those skills to work for your personal injury claim. To receive a free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal options, contact an experienced premises liability attorney today.
Common Types of Hazards Resulting in Injury at Big Box Stores
Slip And Fall Injuries
Wet floors are a preventable hazard that lead to slip and fall injuries in big box stores. Slip and falls caused by wet floors can also be caused by leaking freezers, dripping pipes, clogged drains, a leaking roof and careless maintenance crews. The source of the water doesn’t usually matter. All big box stores have a responsibility to clean it up within a reasonable amount of time. They should also be cautious to notify shoppers of wet floors to avoid sustaining an injury.
Slip and falls are often laughed at in movies, TV shows, and other forms of media. But falling onto a hard surface can have serious consequences.
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most severe types of slip and fall injuries. An estimated 20% of TBI-related hospitalizations are a result of falls. Shoppers who slip and fall at stores like Fry’s or Walmart often land on their heads if they aren’t able to catch themselves. Sometimes a falling person hits their head on an object like a display or a shelf on the way down, which is another common way a TBI can occur in a slip and fall.
Falling Object Injuries
When big box stores don’t properly shelf their products, items can fall and injure customers. Bulk stores in particular, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, stock especially heavy products and pallets of goods high to save space. If these items are not properly stored on these ‘above head height’ shelves, they can cause serious injuries to shoppers when they fall.
Overstocked and unsecured shelves also pose a risk. Lots of big box stores attempt to get as much product out on the sales floor as possible. After all, you can’t sell something that a customer can’t see. This overstocking can lead to precarious positions that can ultimately result in a falling object. Similarly, shelving that is not properly secured or installed can also cause a product or the entire shelf to fall down onto an unsuspecting customer.
Another culprit of storing large heavy objects above a customer’s head is Ikea. Once you make it through Ikea’s beautiful maze of home goods, you’ll find yourself in a warehouse-like section that stores very heavy boxes at heights that can pose a serious risk of falling objects.
One common cause of tripping injuries is improperly installed and maintained floor mats. Sometimes they buckle, sometimes they roll up on the edges. Either way, when this happens, serious injuries are common. The floor mats are typically placed in high traffic areas, like store entrances. If there is a problem with a floor mat, chances are high that someone will trip and fall soon. Our law firm has worked on several of these cases and they often involve badly broken bones that require surgical repair.
Another cause of trip and falls are aisles cluttered with boxes, flatbed carts, and shelves that haven’t been put up yet. Big box stores sell tons of products everyday. This means they often have to stock and rearrange shelves while customers are present.
Target alone brings in over $78 billion a year. Since these retailers sometimes have to restock during business hours, they’re not always mindful of how this can affect their customers. Boxes, pallets, and loose items can become tripping hazards if workers don’t block off the area or unload carefully.
Torn carpets are another common tripping hazard. Stores like Walmart, Big Lots, and Safeway have many high traffic areas. Their flooring needs to be replaced more often than most other places because of this. If they don’t keep up with deteriorating carpets and rugs, customers’ feet can get caught, causing them to trip. Like a slip and fall incident, a trip and fall can result in serious injuries.
Parking Lot Injuries
All too often, tripping hazards go unfixed in the parking lots of big box stores. Potholes that aren’t promptly blocked off or repaired, large cracks, uneven pavement, and loose wheel stops can lead to slip, trip, and fall accidents for customers and employees. Poorly lit parking lots make it difficult for customers to see potential dangers in front of them.
An estimated 9% of pedestrian accidents happen in parking lots. Faded signs or a lack of signage altogether can contribute to car accidents in a parking lot. Arrows, crosswalks, and stop signs are essential to keeping both drivers and pedestrians safe in big box store parking lots. However, typically the driver that hits a pedestrian in a parking lot will be responsible for the injuries sustained.
Injuries in Produce and Floral Sections
Produce and floral sections rely heavily on water to keep their products looking fresh. Misters frequently spray fruits, vegetables, and flowers to entice shoppers. Since stores use this method frequently, they’re well aware that water accumulates in these areas.
When a big box or grocery store doesn’t dry the produce and floral section floors regularly–or use appropriate non-slip mats–customers are at risk for slip and fall accidents that could cause serious injuries.
Who Is Liable for Injuries That Happen at a Big Box Store?
In order for you to have a valid slip and fall claim against a big box store, there must be some amount of negligence on the part of store management. This is where premises liability cases can get a little tricky.
For example, if a customer spills their coffee and someone slips on it 30 seconds later, the store cannot possibly be expected to have cleaned up the spill so quickly. However, if a freezer has been known to leak water for weeks and someone eventually slips and falls, the store’s management was clearly negligent in fixing the hazard.
In addition to the question of whether or not the store is liable, there is also the issue of who caused the slipping hazard in the first place. A variety of people and companies are involved in a big box store’s operations. One or more parties may be responsible for the hazard that caused your injuries.
Oftentimes, the business owner and property owner are not the same entities. Say for example, you fall because of a pothole in a parking lot. It may have been the property owner’s responsibility to maintain this area of the property. Matters become further complicated if the property owner hired a management company that was supposed to provide this service. Your attorney will determine who should be held liable in complex situations like this.
Big box stores also rely on various vendors to deliver the products they sell. If those products are unsafely unloaded and a customer is injured, it may be the vendor’s fault rather than the store.
As you can see, who should be held liable is not always straightforward.
Arizona Premises Liability Laws
Arizona premises liability laws require landowners and business owners to take reasonable safety measures to prevent injuries to people who enter their store.
Store owners and management can be held liable if they knew, or should have known, about a dangerous condition.
More often than not, establishing whether or not the business owner had notice of a dangerous condition requires a thorough investigation by an experienced Arizona premises liability attorney. During this investigation, your attorney may find that the:
- Property owners, managers, and/or their employees created the dangerous condition through negligence, a wrongful act, recklessness, or failure to fix an obvious hazard.
- Defendant was aware of the condition and had a reasonable amount of time to fix it or warn customers about it.
- Condition existed for so long that the defendant definitely knew about the hazard and decided to do nothing about it.
Once the investigation establishes that the defendant had notice of the dangerous condition and did nothing to prevent an injury, you and your attorney can move forward with a claim to receive compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses.
Do I Need a Lawyer for This Type of Case?
If you were injured at a big box store, hiring a qualified lawyer is a good start. Pursuing compensation from a big box store means you will be up against a major corporation that has virtually unlimited financial and legal resources at their disposal. They will go to great lengths to protect their reputation and their bottom line.
Additionally, these massive corporations deal with these situations all the time. Their lawyers and investigators handle slip and fall cases on a daily basis. Obviously, there is a huge disadvantage created by this unbalanced experience.
A Phoenix premises liability lawyer will have the tools, resources, and background knowledge to handle your case properly and make sure you’re not shortchanged for the compensation you deserve.
How Can Abels & Annes Help Me?
Gathering and presenting strong evidence is crucial in any personal injury case, especially slip and fall cases against big box megastores. Abels & Annes will help you by taking over the legal process for you. While you focus on recovery, we will gather evidence, demonstrate the extent of your injuries, and negotiate with the insurance companies involved. The end goal is to get you the most possible compensation for your injuries.
If you were injured at a big box store, give us a call. We can be reached 24/7 at (602) 819-5191 or by using our online contact form.