Every year, dozens of people are injured or even killed during the biggest sale in America: Black Friday. Reports of crowds turning mob-like and destroying barricades in a mad rush for deep discounts plaster the internet for days after the event. In worst-case scenarios, people are trampled, assaulted, or even shot in altercations over store merchandise. By some estimates, over 100 people have been injured in the last 10 years of Black Friday mishaps.
If you’ve ever turned out to wait in line for a 5 a.m. opening, you know the intensity surrounding storefronts and have likely witnessed the battle between supply and demand firsthand. While often exhilarating, these moments can become traumatic for those who have been seriously hurt as a result of store owners’ negligence.
What are your rights as a shopper during Black Friday in Evansville? If you’ve been injured while bargain busting in Evansville, whether at Eastland Mall or Washington Square Mall or somewhere else, do you have a case? Understanding the duties stores have for you may help answer these pressing questions.
Liability of Stores on Black Friday
According to several court precedents and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, businesses are required to maintain the premises of their property to protect customers. Since the original decisions, many individual cases have helped clarify what businesses are and are not required to do to ensure the safety of their customers, especially during anticipated increased traffic, say, during Black Friday.
Stores are generally liable for injuries resulting from hazards with the following characteristics:
- The store knows about an issue
- The store fails to address the issue or account for increased risks of injury
- The store does not inform customers of nonobvious safety issues
On the other hand, stores are not usually held responsible for injuries caused by other customers, such as fist fights between two people waiting in a checkout line.
Ways to Prevent Black Friday Injuries
Both customers and retailers are responsible for shopping safely and providing safe environments, especially during Black Friday. Common sense, thoughtful actions, and careful preparation can help reduce your risk of being injured on the busiest shopping day of the year.
Whether you do it for the thrill or because you always want the latest gifts for the holidays, safe Black Friday shopping starts with you.
Waiting in line can take its toll on your patience, and knowing not everyone around you is going home with the items they want only amplifies the tension. Rather than staying silent and escalating the situation, talk to people around you; find out who they’re shopping for and wish them well as you head inside. Establishing a personal connection may help you think about those around less like enemies and more like friends.
Make a backup plan for must-have items on your list. Black Friday shoppers have fought over $1.28 towels; it gets worse with big-ticket purchases like smartphones and video game consoles. Having a plan B for everything on your list will help you handle disappointment without dueling it out with the person in front of you.
Finally, consider shopping at stores with safe reputations or stores you know handle Black Friday customers responsibly. A few major big-box stores have worse track records of injury than others, and all it takes is a few minutes of research to decrease your risk accordingly. Safe stores will adhere to federal guidelines for safety and take responsibility for increased traffic during Black Friday.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has acknowledged that Black Friday can cause needless safety hazards when handled improperly by store owners. To help alleviate problem areas in and around the store during this time of year, OSHA has released guidelines for how stores should anticipate the inundation of shoppers after Thanksgiving. Guidelines include:
- Provide additional staff members, uniformed crowd control officers, and multiple lines of communication between workers on duty
- Train workers in emergency procedures and strategies for handling difficult customers
- Mark customer and staff entrances and exits clearly, keeping doorways and walkways clear of crowds
- Consider regulating customer entrance by groups rather than all at once
- Maintain the number of customers below the building’s maximum occupancy limit
Safe stores have these and many other procedures in place to reduce customers’ risk of injury during Black Friday shopping. Show your support of responsible businesses by spending your time and money on stores that make your safety a priority.
Evansville Personal Injury Attorneys on Your Side
If the worst has happened to you, and you’ve been injured due to a store’s negligence on Black Friday, you may be eligible for a personal injury claim. The local personal injury attorneys at Hensley Legal Group can help you file your claim and may get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.