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Injured at Ikea? Big Box Stores’ Duty to Provide a Safe Environment

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In October 2017, Indiana’s first Ikea opened its doors. Fans of the cost-effective Swedish furniture maker swarmed its winding showroom in Fishers, outside of Indianapolis, to help the store earn its $90 million average annual revenue.

One distinguishing feature of Ikea’s products is the instruction booklet for assembling furniture. In an effort to create a universally understandable assembly guide, Ikea designers created a picture-filled pamphlet that communicates every step without using specific words (that would have to be translated into each language represented by shoppers).

These icon-heavy instructions include warnings of safety hazards in the home; for example, not climbing up a bookshelf like a ladder.

But Ikea’s stores don’t spend this much energy on warning customers about the dangers in their showroom and warehouse, the massive size of which can make it difficult for employees to discover and correct such danger. Before you shop, make sure you know your rights and the store’s duty to protect you from harm.

Ikea’s Duty of Care

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Any injuries that occur inside a big box store like Ikea are treated under premises liability law. Like any store, people who shop at Ikea are called “invitees” under the law. This means Ikea is legally obligated to provide reasonable care for its shoppers. The specific duties include:

  • Maintaining or repairing unsafe or defective equipment, walkways, and roadways
  • Warning invitees about potential hazards
  • Inspecting the premises on a regular basis
  • Being reasonably aware of any potential risks of injury

These stipulations are vague on purpose; they have to cover a wide variety of property owners and scenarios. Let’s imagine a few hypothetical Ikea risks to help break this down.

Safety in the Showroom

Another one of Ikea’s unmistakable elements is how the company showcases its products. They construct rooms full of their couches, tables, closet organizers, and beds to demonstrate how their furniture works in a variety of living spaces.

As enjoyable as test-driving these kitchens and dining rooms can be, it’s also worth remembering that not every aspect of the rooms is up to code. Be careful putting your weight on any object, even couches. The wear and tear this display furniture receives from other customers may make it unsafe for others.

The showroom also displays Ikea’s inventory in a more traditional way, with chairs and tables lined up on the walls, bolted in place, and spread out to see from every angle. While employees should always be on duty in these areas, they may not catch every safety hazard.

You may have a premises liability case if you’re injured by a piece of furniture that wasn’t secured or assembled properly and was easily identifiable by a store employee.

Safety in the Self-Serve Area

Once you pass through the restaurant, Ikea starts to look a little different. As you near the checkout lines, the store opens up to reveal a warehouse stocked with flat-packed furniture ready to be slotted together.

This area tends to have fewer employees on standby, since many people don’t need additional help sliding their new end table onto their cart.

However, the unsupervised nature of this warehouse means potential safety hazards may go unnoticed by Ikea staff. In 2009, a woman passed by a stack of countertops and paused to look. The items were poorly stacked and fell on top of her without any warning. She was awarded over $3 million dollars in damages for past and future pain and suffering.

If you’re injured in the self-serve area, and there was no way of identifying the risk of injury on your own, you may have a valid premises liability claim.

Next Steps After Being Injured

No one expects to be hurt on a routine shopping trip, but accidents happen every year. If this has happened to you, first seek medical treatment for your injuries. When possible, request security camera footage of your accident and report it to the store. Then, call a premises liability attorney to see if you have a valid claim.

Hensley Legal Group’s local Indiana attorneys have helped many Hoosiers win compensation for their injuries that were caused by someone else’s negligence. To get started with your case today, call us or contact us online. Your conversation with us is free and has no obligations.