Black Friday started as a chance for retailers to begin the Christmas sales season right after the Thanksgiving holiday. With most workers off on the Friday following Thanksgiving, allowing them to recover from their feast, retailers saw an opportunity to capture market share by holding blowout sales. Black Friday has gotten so big that many try to jump the gun by opening up on Thursday night, right after the kickoff of the final NFL game of the day.
While Black Friday gives so many shoppers a shot at great bargains, it can also give them an opportunity to get injured while waiting in line, entering the store, or running to get that last Xbox before the other customer can grab it. Things have gotten so bad that there is a website called Black Friday Death Count that has been updated through the 2021 season to show that there have been 17 deaths and 125 injuries as a result of Black Friday accidents since 2006. In the following, we’ll take a look at some of the most famous Black Friday accidents and explore when and if a retailer can be held liable for an injury here in Texas.
Came in for a bargain, came home with an injury
Christmas and Thanksgiving may be everyone’s favorite holidays. This is why so many love Black Friday. It gives them a chance to get Christmas presents for all of their loved ones at affordable prices without having to take time off from work. But there are people who have to work on Black Friday, and life can be dangerous for them. For example, a Walmart employee trying to control a crowd of over 2,000 shoppers at a location on Long Island was trampled to death as the gates opened for Black Friday. Folks were so busy running to get bargains, that they didn’t stop to notice they were crushing another person. This may explain why an off-duty cop in North Carolina retaliated by pepper spraying a crowd in 2011.
Another potential hazard can occur before you even get into the store. Parking lot arguments can quickly escalate into shootings. Everyone loves to park as close as possible to the store and normal driver etiquette goes right out the window when dealing with Black Friday sales. There have been fatal shootings reported at mall parking lots in Tallahassee, San Antonio, and New Jersey over the last few years.
While these are the worst-case scenarios, the most common injuries occur either from getting pushed by the stampede to enter the store or slipping and falling while grabbing for a bargain. Fortunately, in most cases, while these don’t result in life-threatening injuries, you still may suffer broken bones, ankle sprains, and neck and back injuries. When this happens, you need to determine if you have the ability to make a claim against the retailer.
Can a retailer be held liable?
In most cases, the retailer leased the premises from a shopping mall company. The customers are considered invitees on the premises, putting the retailer into the role of property owner. As such, the retailer is required to take reasonable precautions to protect the safety of the workers and customers at the store to ensure that no one gets injured.
You may be able to bring a lawsuit against the retailer if you are injured at the store. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued rules governing how retailers operate during major sales events, including employing trained security guards, limiting the number of customers inside the store to comply with the maximum occupancy limits, and using barricades as crowd control devices. In other words, if you were injured while waiting on line, entering the store, or within the store itself, then the retailer owes you a duty of care. If the retailer did not comply with the OSHA rules or was negligent in some other respect, then you can sue the retailer for the injuries.
A similar situation occurs if you are injured in the parking lot or walking on the sidewalk on your way to the store. While the retailer cannot be held liable in this situation, the owner of the mall is in a different situation. The common areas of the mall are controlled by the property owner, and it owes every visitor a duty of care as well. If there are sidewalk cracks or parking lot potholes that can cause a person to trip, then this is the responsibility of the mall owner.
If you or a loved one is injured at a shopping mall, call us today
Black Friday should be an enjoyable event where everyone gets a chance to buy great merchandise at bargain prices. Unfortunately, shoppers can and do get hurt every year at Black Friday events here in Texas. Call Hernandez Sunosky, LLP if you were injured at a retail store. Our experienced attorneys will help you with all aspects of your claim and will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve.