In a store injury accident case, like one in which merchandise falls from a shelf, the reason the merchandise fell must be determined and quickly. After a merchandise accident occurs, store management may take steps to correct the defective condition, and in which case, valuable evidence may be lost. For instance, in a case where a shelf which was leaning caused merchandise to slip off the shelf and strike an innocent customer, the store manager may remove and discard the shelf, making it more difficult to prove how and why the accident occurred.
Merchandise accidents tend to occur due to any one or more of the following:
- improperly stocked merchandise,
- shelf load issues, and/or
- shelf defects.
Negligence Law in Store Accident Cases in Pennsylvania
There are two principles of law which come into play in any store accident case. 1. the definition of negligence, and 2. a store’s duty to customers. With respect to the latter, retail establishments in Pennsylvania owe customers one of the highest duties under the law, and that is to make reasonable, periodic inspections to uncover unreasonably dangerous conditions and correct them or otherwise warn customers about them.
Negligence is usually defined as engaging in conduct you shouldn’t or not doing something you should. In a store accident case, a store may be negligent for doing something it should not have done or failing to take action when it should have. The key is notice, which can be actual/direct or constructive/indirect. Read more about notice. In order to prove actual/direct notice, it will be important to establish what the store knew and when. In order to prove constructive/indirect notice, it will be important to establish the store’s maintenance and inspection policies/procedures.
Improperly Stocked Merchandise
In the context of a merchandise injury case, stores may be liable for stocking merchandise negligently. For instance, a store employee disregards store protocol and loads a top shelf with heavy merchandise and places the boxes too close to the edge. If store management does nothing to correct the hazard, the store may be liable for a subsequent accident in which a customer is hurt by merchandise that fell off the shelf.
Shelf Load Issues
Usually, these types of accidents occur because a store employee overloaded a shelf or placed the merchandise on the shelf in a dangerous manner. For example, a store employee overloads a top shelf with heavy merchandise, failing to adhere to the shelf manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight limit for the shelf. After several weeks, the shelf collapses and merchandise falls, striking a customer walking down the aisle. The store would probably be liable for overloading the shelf.
Like with other products, shelves can be subject to defects like design defects or manufacturing defects. For instance, an improperly designed shelf may collapse, causing injury. In such cases, other parties may be held liable, i.e., the company which manufactured the shelf or the company which was hired to assemble the shelf.
In addition, a store may try to fix a shelf by using screws, nails or other fasteners. Over time, if the shelf is not maintained, the screw/nail can come loose, causing merchandise to fall on an unsuspecting customer. If the customer suffers injury, the store will likely be held liable.
Injured by Falling Merchandise in Philadelphia?
If you were injured due to merchandise that fell off the shelf at a store in Philadelphia, please call our store accident lawyers for a free case assessment. You may be able to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Click To Call
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