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

Retail stores have a legal obligation to 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 ridding their business of any condition that can potentially lead to injury. Hazards such as wet floors, trip hazards, improperly stacked merchandise, broken or missing handrails, and other potential dangers must be resolved 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. 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. Take into account what hazards led to the accident and whether or not the accident could have been prevented by the store. 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.

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. Ask those in the surrounding area if they saw what happened. If they are willing to help, take down their contact information. 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.

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. Keep your story simple and do not speculate anything that happened or answer any leading questions.

Be sure to read over the report and request a copy for your records. If the store asks you to sign anything, thoroughly read the document. It may just be a document affirming that your account of what happened is true. However, the document may also be a liability release, preventing you from pursing a legal claim. If you are unsure about what the document says, do not 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. Some injuries, such as head injuries, may not show symptoms immediately. Your doctor will be able to rule out or diagnose and treat any injuries before they worsen.

If your injuries are serious, you may need to file an insurance claim or speak with a lawyer about filing an injury claim. Having a medical report documenting your injuries following the accident can be very useful in a future claim.

Step 6: Consider Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

If your injuries are very minor, such as bruises or a muscle strain, and you only require modest compensation, you may be able to settle your case with the store and their insurance company. However, if you suffered serious injuries that require significant compensation, it is best to have an experienced injury lawyer at your side.

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 a 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.