Falling Merchandise in Retail Stores
Thursday, May 18, 2023

Numerous serious injuries occur every year to shoppers in big box retail stores across the United States very year. Deaths have even been reported from heavy items and boxes falling from large shelving and striking innocent customers. Stacking merchandise high up in a warehouse type setting presents a significant risk of injury to all shoppers, and especially senior citizens and young children.

There are many possible causes of these tragic accidents. The most common reasons arise from negligence by the store and its staff members. Quite often, the items are stacked very high up on the shelving units and when one box is removed, others fall down from the same pile. Other times, boxes and items simply are not properly secured to the shelves. These falling boxes are extremely heavy and fall with great force, which can inflict significant trauma and injury on an unsuspecting customer.

Another major cause is the failure of management to properly train staff on how to stack items on the shelf. A new employee or poorly trained employee may simply be stacking boxes on top of each other in an unsafe manner. There must be proper training and policies and procedures to prevent injuries.

Additionally, the store managers and staff need to inspect the merchandise and boxes regularly to ensure they do not pose a danger to the public. Items may move and shift throughout a day because of the actions of other customers and become unstable. It is essential that store employees regularly monitor the shelves so that merchandise does not come loose and fall on customers.

Under the laws in most states, the business owner has a legal duty to provide reasonably safe premises for its patrons. The property owner can be held liable for injuries resulting from unsafe conditions on the property, including falling items. An experienced personal injury lawyer can investigate the incident and obtain facts and evidence to prove either that the property owner caused the unsafe condition or knew, or should have known, of the unsafe condition. 

Many of these falling merchandise incidents are now captured on store video surveillance cameras. These videos not only show the incident, but can also provide good evidence to why and how it happened.  An injured customer should always report the injury incident to the store manager immediately after the accident. This is strong evidence that the incident occurred and makes it difficult for the store to later refute your version of the events. 

An injury victim can file a lawsuit and sue the store for injuries resulting from falling merchandise and boxes.  These lawsuits seek recoverable damages for pain and suffering, disability, psychological injuries, lost wages, and medical expenses. For cases involving death, the family members can hire a lawyer to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In general, there is a three-year deadline, called the “statute of limitations,” in Michigan to file a negligence lawsuit. The period can be extended in the injured person is a minor. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to start an investigation and make sure a case is filed in a timely manner.


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