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Staying Safe This Black Friday: Premises Liability

By The Husband and Wife Law Team on November 25, 2016

When you’re out shopping for the best deals in town this weekend, you’ll be thinking about how to score the next big deal and whether you set up your route for the day in the most effective way, but you probably won’t be thinking about staying safe this Black Friday, or what happens if you’re injured in one of the stores in which you are doing your bargain hunting. But what does happen if the unthinkable occurs?

If you are injured in the store in which you are shopping, who is liable for your injuries? Is the store liable? Is the person who caused your injuries liable? Are you liable? In the rush and the hullabaloo of the shopping frenzy that will surely happen on Black Friday weekend (and starting even days before) there’s a risk that you could be injured. And the best way to protect yourself from both injury and from the worst parts of its aftermath is to know what you are dealing with, how to avoid it, and who really holds liability for your pain and suffering.

How Do Injuries Occur in Stores on Black Friday?

You think of Black Friday as an amazing tradition where you and your friends or family rush out to stand in long lines in hopes of grabbing the most amazing toys and gifts at a fraction of the cost of what you would normally pay for them. You pride yourself on finding the best deals and saving the most money, and if you’re like a lot of groups of family and friends, you even have a competition to see who can save the most money. But if you’re injured when you’re out in the shopping frenzy, the savings you experienced while shopping will quickly become the least important thing on your mind. But injuries and accidents could never happen to you, right? In 2011, a Buckeye man sustained serious injuries, including a temporary head injury, during a Black Friday incident revolving around a popular video game and a misunderstanding with security. So could a Black Friday injury accident happen to you? Here are just some of the unthinkable, but simple ways that individuals are injured during incidents on Black Friday.

  • Misunderstandings. Like the aforementioned incident in 2011, a misunderstanding with security may land you on the floor of the store. Security on Black Friday is tasked with the enormously difficult task of managing an often unruly crowd and working to stop shoplifters from taking the store for a ride. This can lead to misunderstandings, and unfortunately, sometimes misunderstandings lead to accidents and injuries, even if you do everything you can to comply with requests being made of you by officers.
  • Impatient shoppers who start pushing and shoving. We’ve all heard the stories about store employees and customers being trampled in Black Friday frenzies. And they’re unfortunately true. When customers behind you in the line start pushing and shoving, you have to decide between your safety and that one really popular item that you’ve been waiting to purchase for over seven hours. If you engage in the shoving contest you increase your risk of being injured since you increase the likelihood of a brawl.
  • Slip and fall accidents. With everyone rushing through the store to grab the goods of their choice, there’s bound to be a certain amount of debris and product on the floor. In some stores, wrapped pallets are placed out on the floor throughout the duration of the event, leading to additional debris as the pallets are ripped open by eager shoppers and by the store employees. If you’re moving through the store at lightning speed, you may not see this type of debris floating along the floor and that can lead to serious injuries for you or your family.
  • Avoiding carrying too much in your arms. If you plan on purchasing items that won’t be easily carried, grab a cart. And if you’re the type to grab more than what you came for, it’s important to grab a cart. When you try to carry too much in your arms, you make yourself unstable, and you make it difficult for yourself to scan the crowd, see the ground, and make safe decisions about where to walk, how fast to walk, and what else to grab. Don’t let the frenzy overpower your sense of safety.

What Happens After a Black Friday Injury Accident?

If you are injured on the premises of a store during Black Friday, it is likely that you will ride in an ambulance to leave the store property. This is due to the fact that it may be impossible, or at least very difficult, for you to safely exit the property without incurring additional injuries. The management or employees of the store may try to help you and speak to you in the aftermath of the accident. And depending on the severity of your injuries, you will spend several hours, days, or even weeks at the hospital. For many victims of premises liability accidents, the store or its corporate headquarters makes contact later in an effort to “smooth over” the incident and to try to offer you something–a gift card, perhaps–in order to apologize for your injuries. It is important that you never accept anything from the store as an apology for your injuries, since this could be construed as an agreement to not pursue legal action against the store for your accident. It is important to also speak to a skilled personal injury attorney as quickly as possible after your accident so that your attorney can take immediate and appropriate action to protect your rights. This may include finding witnesses and taking statements before the memories of the day become hazy, getting footage from security cameras, and collecting other evidence that will also disappear over even short periods of time.

Who Is Responsible for My Injuries After a Black Friday Accident?

After being injured on Black Friday you will want to know and understand who is liable for what happened to you. While the store may claim that you are liable for not protecting yourself, or that other customers are to blame for pushing or shoving, the truth is that in most cases, the store and its management will retain some, if not all, of the liability for your accident and your injuries. But why does the store hold liability for what happened to you? Here are some of the things that stores should be doing in anticipation of Black Friday to protect customers that could land them squarely liable for your injuries if you are involved in an accident on their property.

  • Increase security for crowd control purposes. The store management of every store with a Black Friday ad knows that they will have increased crowds and that means an increase in impatient customers, incidents, and possible shoplifting. The store management should account for this and bring in additional security to help manage the crowds and to keep everyone safe. What’s more, that security should be strategically placed nearest to the places where incidents are likely to occur.
  • Increased maintenance and facilities management presence. With an increase in customers for the day comes the need for increased mopping and drying of floors, garbage collection, and regular scans and sweeps of the store to ensure that any debris or other hazards are quickly removed.
  • Preparation for possible weather. Although the likelihood of rain or other extreme weather for Black Friday in Arizona isn’t a huge concern, store managers should be watching the weather reports and planning for mops and additional staffing to keep floors dry and walkways safe should poor weather conditions become an issue.

Although Black Friday is supposed to be about nabbing the best deals around town and getting all of your holiday shopping done in one fell swoop while having fun with family and friends, in poor conditions, it could become a nightmare that will ruin your traditions. If you are involved in an accident and sustain injuries it is important to immediately notify the staff and management of the store, seek immediate medical attention for your injuries, and get away from the unsafe area as quickly as you can. In addition, if you sustained serious injuries that have made it difficult for you to work or to enjoy your life as normal, you may wish to reach out for assistance from a skilled Phoenix premises liability lawyer. The Husband and Wife Law Team know that the days, weeks, and months following a serious injury can be unbearable, but we are here to help you put your life back together and bring the joy back to the holiday season. To start the conversation about your recovery right now reach out for a free consultation with attorneys Mark and Alexis Breyer.

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