Injuries Caused by Falling Merchandise in Virginia
Every year, shoppers are hurt in stores in Virginia. Although we often associate injuries at big box stores and other retail outlets with slip and falls on slick floors, tumbling merchandise also causes dozens of injuries. If you suffer injuries caused by falling merchandise in Virginia, you may be entitled to sue the owners or operators of the store.
People are vulnerable to falling merchandise in many locations. Oftentimes, they don’t realize the dangers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falling merchandise causes about 22 deaths a year. Some of the places you may be hit and hurt by falling objects include:
- The aisles of box stores and other retailers;
- Construction sites;
- Restaurants and bars;
- Shopping malls;
- Hospitals and clinics;
- Public transportation and airplanes.
Stores are obviously one of the most common places for falling merchandise injuries. This is a particular problem during the holidays when large crowds descend on retailers. Displays can quickly be picked apart and objects may fall on shoppers. Children sometimes tip over heavy objects like TVs and pieces of furniture. Workers at stores and management should ensure goods don’t pose a danger to shoppers and shelves are not stacked too high.
Sadly, many stores have been hit hard by the downturn in bricks and mortar retailing in favor of online shopping. Stores now employ fewer workers to ensure they are safe environments for shoppers.
Some of the most serious injuries occur in stores that stock heavy items such as hardware retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot or furniture retailers like IKEA.
Few statistics are available and many of the investigations into falling merchandise are dated. In 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported on the dangers of “sky shelves.”
The report noted the horrific death of a 79-year-old woman from Santa Monica. She was at a Home Depot store in Los Angeles when a teen forklift driver accidentally tipped a load of timber over above her. It fell on the elderly lady’s head, killing her.
Wal-Mart acknowledged in court records that in the six-year period to 1995, its claims department recorded 26,000 customer claims for falling merchandise and 7,000 employee injuries.
A Home Depot official testified in 1998 that the store was receiving a staggering 185 injury claims a week, many involving falling merchandise. Almost 70 customers sued Home Depot in 18 months.
Although stores may be safer now than in the 1990s, there is no reason to believe they have brought in wholesale changes to prevent shoppers from being injured by falling products.
People who suffer injuries caused by falling merchandise in Virginia may be able to sue the owners or managers of a store. Common areas of liability include:
- Products or other objects not properly secured on high shelves;
- Merchandise stacked too high or unsafely;
- Improper equipment used to take items from shelves;
- Dangerous aisles that are too narrow to allow merchandise to be removed;
- Poor lighting in stores meaning customers can’t see dangerous merchandise;
- Floors under shelves that are slippery or mats that pose a trip hazard.
- Dangerous and defective shelving.
How Common are Injuries Caused by Falling Merchandise in Virginia?
Nobody knows the full extent of deaths and injuries caused by falling merchandise in Virginia or nationally. This information is not held centrally. However, stores like Home Depot were recording almost 200 injury claims every week in the 1990s. Given the number of cases we read about, this issue is likely to be more significant than most people think.
Always talk to a Virginia premises liability lawyer about injuries at a business or a store. You should report your injury to the store as soon as it occurs but don’t rely on internal complaints procedures. An injury lawyer will take statements from staff at the store and demand video footage that may have captured the incident. Act fast before a store loses or destroys this important evidence.
The Dangers of Falling Objects at Job Sites
Construction sites and other work areas are hazardous environments where objects can and do fall. Although workers must wear hard hats on construction sites, they don’t always provide adequate protection. Many of the objects that fall from scaffolding are heavy such as hammers and other work tools. A hammer falling from a high scaffolding can cause a serious traumatic brain injury and kill a worker below. Spectacular collapses of giant cranes made headlines across U.S. cities including Seattle, New York, and Dallas in recent years.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes as many as 50,000 “struck and falling object” cases are reported every year in the United States. Most of these entail a worker injury.
Talk to a Virginia Falling Merchandise Lawyer About Your Injury
Falling merchandise or other objects cause serious injuries and deaths. At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers we have an experienced Virginia premises liability team that will thoroughly investigate your case and call on the help of experts if necessary. It’s important to act quickly to ensure evidence is not destroyed. Please talk to us today about injuries caused by falling merchandise in Virginia.