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Don't Buy Trouble: What To Know About Shopping Accidents

by Theresa Hoffman

If a trip to the store to pick up a few items has left you with pain and inconvenience, you may have a legal course of action. Retail locations present a surprisingly high number of opportunities to get hurt due to negligent actions by the owner or manager of a store. While you might feel temporarily embarrassed to have tripped over that loose carpet, you should not let that feeling prevent you from seeking compensation. You might want to keep in mind that "making a big deal" about a store hazard might just prevent others from suffering the same embarrassment, injury, and inconvenience that you did. Read on to learn more.

Duty to Warn

When you shop in a store you should expect that the areas you walk through are safe and free of hazards. Customers who get hurt can result in the company developing a bad reputation, a potential loss of sales, and possibly a lawsuit. Not only should a retail store be safe but the business has a duty to warn customers of any temporary or unusual hazards. For example, warning cones near a front door are a good idea on rainy days; they might prompt customers to take extra care and not fall down.

This duty to warn is not confined to hazards created by the weather or the store, it also covers those caused by other customers. Take for instance a situation where a customer steps in something gooey on the floor and slips. Since the store set up a sampling table of cheesecake bites, it's possible that another customer dropped that food on the floor. Even if the spill was entirely the fault of another customer, the store has a duty to take notice of spills and address them in a timely manner.

Other shopping hazards customers might encounter:

1. Water from any source can be problematic and might come from a leaking roof, a leaking refrigerator or freezer, or a spill.

2. The parking lot is part of the store too and poor outside lighting can contribute to crime, falls, wrecks, and more--particularly if there is already a history of such.

3. Merchandise displays can cause problems if they are not stable and properly secured.

4. Mats, carpeting, and rugs have a tendency to curl or get wrinkled and a customer may never notice this until they hit the floor.

5. Cables, ropes, cords, and other items left strung along the walking paths are tripping hazards and may even be electrical hazards.

Everyone has a responsibility to use due care when in public--including retail establishments. If you've been hurt in a store, speak to a personal injury attorney about getting your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages paid to you.