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What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Store

Retail stores must keep their premises safe for all who enter, whether they are employees, shoppers, delivery drivers, contractors, etc. If a store neglects their duty of care and an accident occurs, they may be held liable for resulting injuries and damages. In the case of an accident, shoppers should understand what legal protections they have and know what to do if they suffer an injury in a store.

What is a Store’s Legal Responsibility?

Businesses in the United States have a legal obligation to make sure their premises are reasonably safe for all visitors. For instance, under New York law, any person or entity in control of a property has a duty “to use reasonable care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition for the protection of all persons whose presence is reasonably foreseeable.”

This means store owners are responsible for maintaining their businesses in a way so that they minimize the chance of injury. Hazards such as wet floors, tripping hazards, improperly stacked merchandise, broken or missing handrails, open trap doors and other potential dangers must be remedied within an appropriate amount of time. If the store fails to do so, they may be held liable for any injuries or damages resulting from their negligence.

Damages can include medical bills, damage to clothing or other personal items resulting from the accident, lost wages, as well as compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering.

Be aware that a store can only be held liable if the accident occurs on their premises or, if somehow, the store caused the dangerous condition that exists off premises. Generally, the store’s premises are not limited to just the main retail area where the merchandise displays, checkout lanes, and aisles are located. Areas such as dressing rooms, restrooms, parking lots, and access walkways can also be considered part of the store’s premises.

Steps to Take If You Are Injured in a Store

Step 1: Assess Your Injuries

The first thing you should do when an accident occurs is assess the extent of your injuries. If you are in pain, call for help if needed. Take note of any pain or dizziness that occurs with movement. Some injuries can be made worse by moving. If you believe you sustained a serious injury such as a broken bone or dislocated joint, call 911 for medical assistance. If you feel okay to walk, do so carefully.

To avoid further injury to yourself or others, make sure that whatever hazard caused the accident is dealt with as soon as possible. If a store employee has not already come to help you, call one over and explain what happened.

Step 2: Consider Liability

After taking the time to evaluate the extent of your injuries, take a moment to consider whether this accident was a minor inconvenience or whether the store is responsible for what happened. Consider what hazards led to the accident and whether the store could have prevented it. If you believe that there was a dangerous condition that the store should have known about and taken care of, then the store may be liable for the accident.

Even if you believe you somehow contributed to the accident, the store may still be held liable to a certain extent. If you believe the store somehow neglected their duty of care, it may be in your best interest to pursue legal action.

Step 3: Collect Evidence and Speak with Witnesses

Collect evidence from the accident scene. If you are injured, ask for help from someone shopping with you or anyone willing to help. Take note of what conditions caused your accident and whether there were any signs or other warnings indicating the hazard. Photographic or video evidence can be incredibly useful should you decide to file a claim for your injuries. However, we understand that it is unlikely that you’ll be thinking about gathering evidence as you lay injured on the floor of a supermarket.

After receiving medical attention, contact an attorney as soon as possible; an attorney will be able to submit a formal request for video or photographic evidence from the business via preservation of evidence letter. This letter will state that destruction of evidence charges will be pursued by the firm if any evidence is destroyed or misplaced. Businesses frequently delete their video footage after a certain amount of time, so it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

Witness testimony can also be very valuable in a future case. If the store later tries to deny your claims, a third-party witness can serve as strong supporting evidence for your case. While at the scene, ask those in the surrounding area if they saw what happened. Even if a witness did not see exactly what happened, they can still testify to the fact that there was a hazard in the store that caused your accident.

If they are willing to help, take down witness contact information. There is no better witness than a nonparty witness. A nonparty witness is not invested in who wins or loses a personal injury case, so their account of the incident is least likely to be influenced by bias. This type of witness is considered a “disinterested witness” as opposed to an “interested witness.” Following the trial of a store injury case, the presiding judge reads a charge to the jury which describes the difference between an interested witness and a disinterested witness. The law favors disinterested witnesses and the accounts they provide, making them highly valuable in a personal injury lawsuit.

Step 4: File an Incident Report with the Store

The store manager will likely make a report documenting what happened. Give the employee a full account of what happened and stick to the facts. Do not say anything that can be considered an admission of fault as that can be used against you in a future case to limit the store’s liability. Most importantly, be sure to request a copy of the report. In our thirty years of handling personal injury cases, many of our clients have unfortunately not been provided with accident reports. In some cases, a report is simply lost by the store. In other cases, the store may even intentionally destroy the report. If the store refuses to give you a copy of the report, make sure you take a photo of the report and any employees you may have talked to. Embellishments or speculations are not useful to a report; keep your story simple and do not answer any leading questions.

Read the report and any other documents thoroughly, especially if the store asks you to provide a signature for anything. Store employees may offer a document that simply affirms the honesty of your account. However, the document may also be a liability release; signing a liability release would legally prevent you from pursuing a claim against the store. If you are unsure about what the document says, obtain a copy of the document and simply refuse to sign it.

Step 5: Get Medical Help

Even if you believe you have not suffered any major injuries, you should still schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to make sure that you are in good health following the accident. No one wants to be seriously injured in an accident. Of course, we all hope that your injuries will go away with time — which does occasionally happen. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Injuries, especially those that cause damage to the spine, head, or joints, often fly under the radar immediately after an accident, reappearing days or even weeks later.

To protect yourself from the possibility of being left with long-term injury without financial help, you must preserve your rights at the outset following a store accident. Taking the right steps after an unfortunate incident can make the difference between life-long disability and access to rehabilitative care. Promptly seeking medical attention is a crucial step in proving your case, and your doctor will be able to diagnose and treat any injuries before they worsen.

Step 6: Consider Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

If you suffered serious injuries that require significant compensation, it is essential that you have an experienced injury lawyer at your side. Retail stores and the insurance companies they utilize are fiercely committed to paying out as little money possible to the victims of their own negligence. Thankfully, the attorneys at Block, O’Toole & Murphy have decades of successful experience going head-to-head with corporate goliaths, and we will not rest until you are awarded compensation for your damages. The pain, stress, and inconvenience of being injured cannot be overstated. Being robbed of your health, income, and autonomy at the fault of others is unacceptable and unfair. You and your loved ones deserve to hold those at fault accountable.  

A serious injury, such as a bone fracture, laceration, or brain injury, requires a higher value payout from the store. Retailers and their insurance companies are aware of the financial and reputational damage that can be done to them if they are held liable for a serious injury. They will work hard to refuse or reduce their liability in such cases. Having a skilled lawyer by your side may be your best chance of receiving full and fair compensation for your injuries, regardless of how much evidence you collected.

An injury lawyer will be able to tell you how strong your case is based on your evidence and can determine how likely you are to prove the store’s liability. An experienced attorney will also know what methods the defense will use against you and will be prepared to fight on your behalf.

Reach Out to a Store Injury Lawyer

The store injury lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have a proven track record helping those who are injured as a result of another party’s negligence.

Select results* in store-related accident cases include:

  • $3,258,000 Jury Verdict for a delivery truck helper who suffered multiple fractures and spinal injuries when he was hit by a forklift operated by a supermarket employee
  • $2,750,000 Settlement in a New York case involving a mother who sustained knee injuries requiring surgery after tripping and falling on uneven sidewalk in a shopping center
  • $1,175,000 Settlement for a woman who suffered an exacerbation of pre-existing injuries when 4 to 6 gallon jugs of juice fell on her while shopping in a supermarket

To discuss your case with a lawyer at Block O’Toole & Murphy, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form. We serve New York and New Jersey.

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*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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Fill out our short online contact form for a FREE, immediate case review, or call us locally at 212-736-5300 today. The lawyers in our firm work on a contingency basis, so we do not collect any money unless we win your case.