Big box stores, home improvement stores, shopping clubs and other retailers have a reputation for injuring customers with falling merchandise that was negligently stacked or stored. Find out how Georgia premises liability law protects customers like you from negligent merchants.
- In Georgia, store owners and operators have a duty to use ordinary care to keep customers safe.
- Improperly stacked and maintained merchandise and shelving can create a dangerous environment for unsuspecting customers.
- Premises liability law in Georgia can hold property owners responsible for injuries sustained in a retail store.
- Employees injured by falling merchandise at the workplace may also have claims for compensation.
- A premises liability injury lawyer can help you properly gather key evidence and investigate what occurred to put together your strongest possible claim.
If you are reading this you may have been struck by falling merchandise in a hardware or home improvement store. shopping club or large warehouse store. The shelves were stacked high or merchandise toppled off a shelf and hit you. But is the retailer liable for your injury? In many cases, yes.
In the State of Georgia merchants have a duty to use ordinary precautions and take reasonable care to protect the safety of shoppers, known as business invitees. Store owners and managers who violate this duty can be liable in monetary damages in the form of a settlement or verdict.
Merchandise may be too heavy for shelving, improperly stacked, or become unstable throughout the day, causing a dangerous situation for customers shopping in the store. Stores have a profit motive to build and stack shelves high to save on costs. But this can create a dangerous situation unless proper precautions are taken.
Falling merchandise can cause serious injury, and the medical bills for treatment, medication, and rehab can be expensive. The costs from these accidents can be financially crippling, adding to the pain of the physical injuries sustained.
If you’ve been injured, or a loved one killed, by falling merchandise in a store, the business should be held liable. Here’s what you should know about pursuing a Georgia personal injury case against a business for falling merchandise.
Why Merchandise Falls Inside Stores
There are many reasons why merchandise will fall in a store, including:
- Under trained employees who don’t properly handle the merchandise
- Inventory being stacked higher than it should due to limited space
- Cheap or poorly maintained shelves
- Poor floor management, where employees fail to reset merchandise properly after customers move things around
- Lack of proper warnings and signage
- Shifting or unsafely stacked merchandise
Of course, there are other reasons why merchandise may fall in stores, including natural disasters, product malfunctions, or any structural damage to the facility above the merchandise. All of these situations mean each case is unique.
An attorney can help you determine how to apply the Georgia laws that are meant to protect people like you who have been injured due to a dangerous condition in a store.
Georgia Laws Protect In-Store Accident Victims
The Georgia code that covers injuries suffered in stores falls under premises liability law. The provisions can be found at O.C.G.A 51-3-1 here.
Property owners are expected to exercise ordinary care for the health and wellbeing of visitors. And premises liability legally holds property owners responsible for injuries sustained on-site. It is up to businesses to actively protect shoppers as a public health and policy matter.
If you are injured, businesses know that they might be held responsible because of their duties as property owners. They may not be surprised to see a lawsuit when an injury occurs on their property.
Steps Retailers Can and Should Take to Protect Customers From Falling Merchandise
Most falling merchandise injuries are preventable accidents, but happened due to a store’s negligence. Retailers can and should:
- Use shelf guards to prevent merchandise from sliding or toppling off shelves
- Have rules about how high items can be stacked
- Require employees to patrol aisles regularly to look for unstable or misplaced items
- Have policies and rules that train and instruct employees how to safely stack inventory
Industry standards, retail experts and even a company’s own training manuals can be used to prove that a store failed to follow simple safety rules that can and should prevent accidents andinjuries.
How a Georgia Premises Liability Claim Works
The most general events and timeline of a premises liability claim are as follows:
- A publicly-open store advertises business and invites you in.
- You enter an area in the store that was unsafe because the shelves were not well kept or the floors were not clear.
- You are injured by falling merchandise and have to get medical treatment for your injuries, incurring significant costs.
- You contact a personal injury lawyer, and they start investigating your claim against the business.
- Your premises liability attorney collects the evidence, medical records, and statements, and submits a legal claim or settlement offer.
- The insurance company for the business and your personal injury law firm negotiate.
- If a settlement agreement is reached, your receive a payment.
- If the parties are not able to reach an acceptable agreement, you and your accident lawyer may choose to file a lawsuit.
Why Make a Premises Liability Claim for Injuries from Falling Merchandise?
You might wonder whether you should make a premises liability claim to cover injuries sustained from falling merchandise. Here are three main reasons you may want to consider doing so:
- Unless your injury is very minor, you may be personally responsible for all medical, rehab, and medication bills, plus any lost income due to being unable to work from your injury.
- The problem is unlikely to be fixed or may be repeated if you do not complain.
- Filing your claim may motivate a retailer to make their stores safer for you and other customers.
Unless you are willing and able to simply take on all of the costs incurred from an injury, it may be smart to file a claim.
Strong Premises Liability Claims Need Good Evidence
Strong evidence is critical in giving you the best chance at success in a premises liability merchandise injury claim.
Evidence used to prove Georgia premises liability and falling merchandise cases can include: Witness testimony from other customers or employees who saw the accident can be helpful to your claim, store security cameras, 911 emergency call recordings, maintenance records, evidence of prior claims that can be discovered through litigation, and photographs of the accident scene.
Having to gather evidence and investigate the scene yourself while recovering from an accident injury can be extremely difficult. To make matters worse, you may be faced with an uncooperative business. A personal injury lawyer can help properly gather all of this evidence and investigate what occurred to put together your strongest possible claim.
Georgia Businesses that Are Known to Have Merchandise Fall
Injuries from falling merchandise can occur at almost any business in the state of Georgia, including:
- Big-box stores
- Home improvement retailers
- Shopping Clubs
- Grocery stores
- Restaurants and Bars
Any business that stores inventory on-site is subject to a premises liability claim. Property owners will often attempt to evade responsibility, but they should be held accountable for your injuries.
In many cases, there will be an argument about who will be on the hook to pay for accidents that occurred at a business.
Liability is often the most hotly contested issue in a premises liability claim. The injuries often speak for themselves, so the biggest argument is usually over who should be held financially responsible for the injuries suffered. No one will blame themselves, and everybody will point the finger at one another.
If a business has liability insurance to cover these types of accidents, the policy will likely cover the costs. Larger corporations understand their risks and are often well insured. However, smaller businesses that do not have adequate insurance may be on the hook themselves.
It is important that your case is well-investigated and researched so you can make sure the responsible party is held financially responsible.
Employees Injured by Falling Merchandise
If you are an employee injured by falling merchandise at your workplace, you are not prevented from making a claim. Employees are more likely to suffer injuries from merchandise accidents simply because of how often they handle and work around store inventory.
As an employee, you may have a workers compensation case if injured by the negligence of the owner or a co-employee. It a customer injures you, you might have a claim against the customer which possibly may be covered by the customer’s homeowner’s insurance.
If you’re out of work because of your injury, then you may be entitled to make a workers compensation claim. A personal injury attorney can explain your best course of action for pursuing a case against your workplace.
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How a Merchandise Injury Accident Attorney Can Help
The decision to hire an attorney is an important one. An experienced merchandise injury accident attorney can and should:
- Educate you on the law and how it applies to your case
- Identify the true value and cost of your injury and accident
- Collect strong and necessary evidence to bolster your case
- Properly build a claim to ensure you’re fully compensated
- Effectively communicate with the other parties to seek out an accurate settlement
- Be ready for a trial if it is necessary to win your claim
Your lawyer should be prepared to take on several fronts in a premises liability claim. If you’ve been injured by falling merchandise at a local store, make sure you seek the advice of an experienced merchandise injury accident lawyer.