Throughout 2022, American consumers purchased over $852 billion worth of general merchandise from various stores across the country. Considering the massive amount of merchandise that gets moved around every day, it makes sense that accidents happen from time to time.
Unfortunately, merchandise accidents can be pretty serious, especially if that merchandise falls onto a customer from a height. Atlanta falling merchandise accidents can lead to severe injuries, like TBIs or spinal cord damage, so it might be necessary for customers who experience an accident to consider their legal options.
Below, we’ll go over how a merchandise accident can happen, the losses that can result after an injury, and how an attorney can help you determine your legal options for recovery.
What is a Falling Merchandise Accident?
Atlanta falling merchandise accidents are exactly what they sound like – an unsuspecting customer is usually injured as a result of merchandise falling from a height. Falling merchandise accidents can happen when an object suddenly falls from shelving, support units break causing merchandise to fall, or for other reasons.
Most falling merchandise accidents are preventable. These accidents can range in severity depending on the type of merchandise that falls, how many units fall, and where the customer is hit. Even in the most minor falling merchandise accidents, it’s best to file a report and inform a manager about what happened. Businesses need to ensure that a dangerous condition didn’t cause the accident.
Common Types of Injuries Sustained in a Falling Merchandise Accident
Minor merchandise accidents can lead to injuries like bruises, scrapes, or cuts. Depending on the severity of these injuries, medical care may not be needed. In more serious incidents, heavy merchandise could strike a customer’s head or cause the customer to fall. This can lead to severe injuries, like TBIs, spinal cord injuries, and even fractured or broken bones.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries can happen from a forceful blow to the head from merchandise that falls off of a shelving unit. While you might think you need to get hit by a pretty heavy object to sustain a TBI, that’s not always the case. A smaller object can still result in significant brain damage.
If you get hit in the head and lose consciousness at all, then that could be a sign that you sustained a TBI. You should also get checked out if you experience symptoms like speech problems, dizziness, sensitivity to light, sensory problems, memory issues, or newfound confusion.
Minor TBIs may resolve with some rest, but more serious injuries could require long-term care. A TBI could also cause permanent damage.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Falling merchandise could also result in a spinal cord injury, especially if the customer slips and falls onto their back as a result of getting struck by merchandise. If you fall and experience any of the following symptoms, then it might be best to get a full physical to rule out any spinal cord injuries:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of voluntary muscle movement
- Pain when breathing
- Loss of sensation in arms, legs, or chest area
- Loss of bowel and bladder function
- Extreme back pain
- Muscle spasms
Depending on the severity of the spinal cord injury, the losses associated with it can be substantial. For one, the customer will not be able to return to work right away. In the worst cases, the person may be permanently disabled.
Severe Fractures or Broken Bones
Another common injury that can happen after getting struck by falling merchandise is severe fractures and broken bones. This can occur simply due to the pressure and force of the merchandise falling or the result of a slip and fall from the merchandise. Unfortunately, these types of injuries will lead to long-term losses, as it could take several months for the customer to completely heal from the broken or fractured bones.
Common Causes of Falling Merchandise Injuries
As we touched on before, most falling merchandise accidents and injuries are preventable. That’s because the most common cause of falling merchandise accidents is human error and negligence. Below, we’ll go over some of the most common factors that cause or contribute to a falling merchandise injury.
Slippery or Wet Floors
Unmarked slippery or wet floors can cause a falling merchandise accident when a customer trips, grabs onto a shelving unit for support, and merchandise spills out onto the floor. Business owners have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of customers, so they need to do their best to maintain dry and safe floors. If the business owner knew or should’ve reasonably known about the slippery situation and they failed to act on it, then you might have the basis to seek out a claim.
Dangerous Conditions or Obstructions on the Floor
Another common cause of falling merchandise accidents happens as a result of obstructions on the floor, crowded aisles, or other dangerous walkway conditions. Customers who have to go around obstructions are more likely to grab onto shelving units, hit display shelves, knock off loose merchandise, and get hurt by falling products. If the business owner knew or should’ve reasonably known about the unsafe conditions, then you might be able to file a claim for compensation.
High Shelves or Unsecured Stock Items on Shelves
One of the leading causes of falling products is improper storage. Stockers should never create unsafe situations by putting heavy products on high shelves, leaving dangerous products unsecured, or overloading shelves past their capacity. When the proper safety steps aren’t taken, it makes a falling merchandise accident more likely to happen. It also causes legal liability to shift onto either the stocking company in charge of loading the merchandise or the business owner who employed the stocker.
Impaired vision as a result of insufficient lighting can also cause customers to stumble in to display shelves or knock loose merchandise off the shelves. Business owners should always have sufficient lighting around their merchandise area, so insufficient lighting would likely be considered negligent behavior on the property owner’s part.
Lack of Proper Maintenance and Inspections
Another common cause of falling merchandise accidents is a lack of proper maintenance and regular inspections. A store’s shelving units have to carry pretty heavy loads every day, so some wear and tear is expected with consistent use. Enough wear and tear can lead to an accident, though, so business owners should have an inspection and maintenance schedule that helps them maintain a safe environment for customers.
Falling Merchandise Accidents and Legal Liability: What to Know
When your own recklessness causes a falling merchandise injury, you may not have much recourse. If someone else’s negligence might be the cause of your accident, then you might be able to pursue compensation by filing a claim.
Most Atlanta falling merchandise accidents occur at businesses. Under the law in Georgia, all business owners have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to secure the safety of their guests. That means ensuring that merchandise is properly stored and placed. Shelving and support units need to be properly maintained, and the store’s storage design should consider the safety of putting heavier items at a height.
If the business owner doesn’t take reasonable steps to secure the safety of customers, then they could be held financially responsible for the customer’s losses.
Why Seek an Atlanta Falling Merchandise Accident Lawyer?
Atlanta falling merchandise accidents that result in serious injuries can lead to significant or even long-term losses. When your situation has resulted in significant financial losses, then it makes sense to talk to a lawyer because an attorney will be able to help you make an informed choice on how to handle your losses. If your attorney thinks you have the basis to seek out a claim based on your circumstances, then they can help you file the right paperwork, document your losses, negotiate with the liable party, and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Without a lawyer, you’ll be on your own when it comes to handling all these tasks. The burden of proving personal injury claims lies with the person who sustained the losses.
Are You Looking for Legal Help in Atlanta?
Atlanta falling merchandise accidents can happen for a number of reasons, but the results are often the same. A customer gets injured, and they could endure a number of other losses after the accident including lost wages and long-term medical expenses.
If you experience an accident that you think could be the result of someone else’s negligence and your losses are significant, then it makes the most sense to consult with a premises liability attorney. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine if negligence played a role in your accident, value your losses, and help you make an informed choice about whether pursuing a claim is in your best interests.
Are you in Atlanta or a nearby area? If so, then our personal injury lawyers can help you determine how to move forward after your recent accident. Schedule a consultation with our office now to learn more about how we can help.