Big box stores are convenient, selling multiple items in one place for a “one-stop” experience; they are also, well – big, with over 50,000 square feet of space each. Indiana is home to many examples of big box stores, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Meijer, Kroger Marketplace, Target – and even Ikea. Like all retail establishments, these stores require safety training for their employees; everyone who works there knows of slip and fall risks and presumably attempts to avoid them for their customers. However, sometimes people – especially overworked employees – make mistakes, and innocent shoppers are injured.
If you suffered shopping injuries by slipping, tripping, falling, or having something fall onto you at a big box store in Indiana, you may be facing medical bills, missed work, and weeks or months of painful recovery. This is where a shopping injury lawyer can help. It is essential for you to know that laws in Indiana clearly spell out the responsibility of property owners to protect you. The property owner has a responsibility to keep you safe while you are legally on the premises under Premises Liability Law.
Premises Liability Law
This law considers you to be an invitee. In other words, you are legally present on the big box store’s property because you are there for the benefit of the owner (the owner wants to sell you goods). The store owner has a duty of care to maintain a reasonably safe environment for you.
Is a store liable for customer injury? Under premises liability law, you and your lawyer can pursue a lawsuit if certain conditions are met:
- You wouldn’t have been injured if the store owner or the owner’s employees hadn’t been negligent in some way.
- Either they acted in some way (such as stacking boxes to an unsafe level) or they neglected to act in some way (such as by not blocking off or placing warning signs around a spill or hole in the flooring), and that is why you were hurt.
- The owner or employees either knew about the danger or should have known about the danger.
- This proviso means that if a child in front of you threw something onto the floor which you tripped over immediately, the big box store has not been negligent. If, however, the item was shown to have been in place for 40 minutes and the store’s procedures call for inspections every 30 minutes, the store has been negligent.
- You must have actually suffered damages.
- If you fall, lose your dignity, and feel a little shaken up, you have not suffered injuries. However, if you fall, are injured, incur medical expenses (or other expenses or loss of income), and pain and suffering as a result of your injuries, you have suffered damages and do have a case under the law.
Common ways shopping injuries can occur:
- You could slip on spilled liquid that has made the floor sticky or slippery.
- Display items, including heavy boxes or sharp objects, could fall from poorly stacked shelves or precarious display towers.
- Overloaded displays could entirely collapse on top of you.
- You could trip over a pallet or stack of pallets that have been piled in an aisle or at the end of an aisle.
- Each year 51% of store-related injuries happen because someone tripped over a pallet.
- You could fall as a result of reaching for an item that has been placed on a top shelf.
- You could trip as a result of a frayed mat or uneven or cracked flooring.
- Cluttered aisles or overcrowding could be the reason you are pushed into the side of a display.
- Sometimes display hooks protrude at dangerous heights, causing injuries as people (especially children) walk into them or by them.
- A host of other dangerous conditions could exist, such as malfunctioning doors or escalators, poor lighting, or any kind of object lying in your path.
Common shopping injuries
- Serious injuries result from 1 out of every 5 falls. Unfortunately, serious injuries need long recovery times; some injuries have lifelong repercussions.
- Falls are the most common cause of head injuries and are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Mild, moderate, and severe concussions can also occur when something heavy falls on someone’s head.
- Spinal cord injuries can lead to full or partial paralysis.
- Falls and other types of accidents in big box stores often lead to broken bones. Hip fractures are prevalent, particularly in older adults. According to the CDC, more than 95% of hip fractures are the result of falls.
- Lacerations can occur when objects such as hooks or sharp edges tear or pierce the flesh.
- Sprains or strains sound less serious than broken bones, but can often lead to weeks on crutches and physical therapy.
Store Injury Settlements
You may be wondering how to sue a store for injury and how much compensation you could receive. Like most injury cases, the amount of damages will vary from case to case. Common variables used to determine a settlement amount include the severity of your injuries, the cost of your medical bills, current and future lost wages, and also the experience of your lawyer.
If your injuries are not life-changing, you may receive a settlement in the range of $10,000 to $15,000. Injuries with lengthier recovery times such as broken bones can bring settlements of as much as $100,000. Accidents leading to surgeries and lengthy recovery may be eligible for $300,000. The highest settlements come from cases where the store exhibited gross negligence that led to serious injury. These cases can have a value of $500,000 or more.
Let Poynter & Bucheri Handle Your Store Injury Case
An example of a big box store injury case we handled:
Our client was an elderly woman customer at a big box clothing store, where she tripped and fell over the threshold of the entrance. The client suffered a fractured hip and required multiple surgeries. Poynter & Bucheri named both the big box store and landlord as defendants. We hired an engineer to conduct an inspection, and he found that the threshold was not in compliance with code. After sharing the report, a settlement was reached with both defendants.
Call (800) 265-9881 for a free case review.