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What to Know About the Risk of Injuries in Big-Box Stores

The large retail outlets known as big-box stores offer a widely varied selection of goods under one roof, making them convenient one-stop shopping destinations. However, these operations by their very nature create a unique set of hazards for shoppers. All commercial establishments have duty to keep their premises safe for expected visitors, and when a big-box store breaches that duty, it can be held liable for damages if injuries results.

Here’s a look at some of the dangers lurking in big box stores and how they can lead to accidents:

  • Falling merchandise — Large and heavy boxes may be stowed in upper shelves or stacked high in floor displays. If someone attempts to remove a box from a shelf, it can cause others to fall. Floor displays can topple if they are jostled or if a box is improperly removed.
  • Clutter in the aisles — Pallets of merchandise, overflowing stock boxes, electrical cords, packaging materials and other debris left in the aisles can create tripping hazards. 
  • Inadequate or inexperienced help — Big-box stores tend to be thinly staffed, leaving shoppers to access merchandise themselves, which can be dangerous. Accidents also can be caused by poorly trained employees using a forklifts, mobile stairs or other equipment. 
  • Spilled liquids — Cleaning solutions, paint or even food items can create slip-and-fall hazards. The danger is compounded if the spill isn’t cleaned up promptly or marked as a hazard. Similarly, freshly mopped floors can be slippery until completely dry.
  • Exterior hazards — Poorly maintained sidewalks and parking lots may be riddled with cracks, uneven surfaces or potholes. The risk of an accident is enhanced, especially at nighttime, if the parking lot is poorly lit.

If you are injured while shopping in a big-box store, here are some immediate steps you should take to protect your health and your legal rights:

  • Take cellphone pictures of the area, since it is likely that the store will correct the condition that led to the accident.
  • Note the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  • Look for any surveillance cameras nearby that may have captured the incident.
  • Notify the store management of the accident, without admitting fault on your part. Request a copy of any incident report.
  • Seek prompt medical attention, even if you don’t feel hurt, since some injuries may not be immediately apparent.

Finally, contact an experienced premises liability attorney. Customers hurt in big-box stores have the right to seek compensation for their medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. A lawyer can analyze the facts, secure evidence and help you win the damages you deserve.

Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP in St. James represents clients throughout Long Island and the Greater New York area in premises liability cases. Please call 631-360-0400 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.