Texas Store Accident Lawyer
When you make a quick trip to the store, you don’t expect that you could suffer a serious injury. But falling merchandise, slippery floors, and dangerous parking lots have caused many injuries over the years.
Store accidents may, in some instances, be unavoidable. Often, though, they occur because the parties responsible for the property’s care have failed to address a hazard or defect. If you suffered an injury in a store accident and believe someone else’s negligence may be to blame, you could be entitled to compensation.
Hazardous Parking Lots
In 2013, a car crashed through the front doors of a Maryland Sam’s Club store, injuring three shoppers. One man’s injuries were so extensive, medics had to amputate part of his leg.
According to Texas A&M Transportation Institute, vehicle-into-building crashes kill about 500 people a year. While driver error is usually to blame, poor parking lot design is almost always a factor in such crashes.
The Commercial Real Estate Development Association explains that nose-in parking, in which parking spaces face a storefront, raises the risk of vehicle-into-building crashes. Curbs are only slightly effective in preventing these crashes.
In March, two vehicle-into-building crashes a few weeks apart occurred in the same New Mexico shopping center – and both cars jumped the 5-inch curbs. Rob Reiter, co-founder of the Storefront Safety Council, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that unless the property owner made design changes, another vehicle-into-building crash would likely occur. The real estate group that owns the property said it planned to install short posts called bollards along the storefronts, to prevent further crashes.
Unfortunately, some property owners don’t take a proactive approach to keeping parking lots safe. For example, owners of stores in high-crime areas should have adequate lighting in parking lots – but if they don’t, they could be found liable for a personal-injury crime, as the risk of crime was foreseeable.
In 2016, a toddler suffered serious injuries in a Virginia Sam’s Club when a pallet full of water jugs fell off a shelf onto the boy. A witness said the pallets had been double-stacked on a high level of shelving.
UFCW issued a press release in 2010, following the death of a worker in Indiana. The employee at Kroger supermarket was crushed by falling pallets of bottled water, and an ensuing death investigation by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Kroger $17,000 for unsafe working conditions. UFCW said water pallets are unstable and should never be double-stacked.
In a warehouse, workers have to wear hard hats in certain situations, but in a warehouse-like store, shoppers are exposed to the same risks, without the protection of hard hats. A tragic example of that fact is a 1999 accident at a Los Angeles Home Depot, in which a forklift operator knocked a box off a shelf, and it fell on a woman’s head and killed her. The same year, at an Idaho Home Depot, a 3-year-old girl died when a load of kitchen counter tops fell from a forklift.
As soon as liquid hits a floor, it becomes a slipping hazard. If someone were to immediately slip in that liquid and fall, it’s unlikely the property owner would be found liable for that shopper’s injuries. To prove liability, a personal injury claim must prove that a property owner knew of – or should have known of – a hazard, had a reasonable amount of time to remediate that hazard, and yet took no action.
In a case against Sam’s Club, the Texas Supreme Court found that employees were aware the entrance ramp to the store wasn’t level with the parking lot (it was 5/8 of an inch higher), and that uneven transition caused a 77-year-old woman to fall and break her hip. So the court sided with the woman, awarding her compensatory damages.
Help for Injury Victims
In store accident cases, especially those that involve major retailers, victims often face teams of corporate attorneys that attempt to undermine their claim of injury. An experienced personal injury attorney will work hard on behalf of clients to achieve the best possible outcome for injury victims and their families.
If you’ve suffered an injury in a store accident, contact the Evans/Reilley Law Firm online, or by calling 1-855-414-1012, to request your free consultation.