Falling objects can result in severe injuries. During the past decade, thousands of people have been injured, some killed, by falling merchandise while shopping or at work. Caused by improperly stocked merchandise, merchandise falls off high shelves and causes injuries to customers at an alarming rate. If a falling object harmed you, you may file a personal injury claim against the property owner.
Falling Object Injuries at Retailers
Most people do not visit a store thinking they will get injured by a falling object while shopping, although the risk of that happening is very real, especially at stores like Walmart, Sam’s, Costco, or Target, where items are typically stacked much higher than eye level. Merchandise is often stacked on top of other merchandise or on crates or slabs. With that type of risk, it is no wonder shoppers are getting hurt by falling objects at a high rate. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is not only shoppers who are at risk of injury. Retail workers experience a high rate of non-fatal injuries while at work. There are three main ways in which those injured by falling objects can sue the stores in which they were injured:
- Premises liability: Claiming that the store owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition on the property that led to the victim’s injury.
- Negligent training/supervision: Employers fail to train the safe way to store unsold items or supervise them when stacking items incorrectly.
- Vicarious liability: If an employee was negligent in the scope of his or her employment, an employer can be held liable.
Falling Object Injuries at Work
In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a study surveying the most prevalent occupational injuries and deaths. That year, 4,679 workers suffered fatal injuries on the job in various accidents. Injuries due to contact with objects and equipment accounted for 708 total fatalities. Of these, 34% included incidents involving falling objects striking workers. While these injuries can occur in any industry, the most hazardous fields are:
- Aircraft (whether working as a pilot or engineer)
- Waste removal
- Iron and steel work
- Electrical work
These occupations come with a multitude of safety risks, most of which OSHA regulates. OSHA develops safety standards for each industry and enforces those regulations through safety audits and citations. Unfortunately, many accidents occur because employers fail to abide by safety regulations or do not provide adequate safety equipment. In such cases, courts may consider negligence a major contributing factor.
In many occupational injury cases, the employer did not comply with OSHA’s standards. Perhaps no one trained you on operating a forklift correctly, or maybe no one gave you a hard hat for a particular job. Legal bodies consider this a failure to perform a duty of care, and your employer should be responsible for expenses due an accident that could potentially have been avoided.
Causes of Falling Objects
Falling object incidents have the following common characteristics:
- High stacking. Characterized by safety experts as the storage of merchandise on the sales floor above eye level;
- Unsecured merchandise. Most merchants do not use physical-restraining safety devices such as security bars, fencing, or safety ties on high shelves because of the expense involved and the employee time it would take to use them;
- Triggering events. Falling merchandise can be triggered by moving merchandise that has been stacked in an unstable manner;
- No warning of danger. Typically, the merchandise falls without any warning to unsuspecting customers. Notwithstanding that merchants know of the risk of falling merchandise from high stacking and the potential for serious injury to customers, they do not warn customers of these risks;
- Improper training. Often store personnel are improperly trained, or not trained at all, in stocking techniques or in recognizing and correcting the hazards of falling merchandise. A number of incidents could be prevented if merchants would train employees in procedures for recognizing hazards and would ensure that the merchandise is safely stacked.
Common Injuries Due to Falling Objects
Injuries from falling objects vary widely, but, because of the force velocity creates, most cases are severe. Unfortunately, falling objects are already typically large and unsteady, like scaffolding and construction equipment. The most common injuries people suffer after an incident with a falling object include:
- Fractures or broken bones
- Crushed or loss extremities or limbs
- Head injuries, like concussions
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal injuries
Because of the severity of falling object injuries, many victims miss significant time at work and find themselves with extensive medical expenses. In some cases, injuries sustained during the accident can be so severe that the victim doesn’t survive. Whether you experienced an injury or have lost a loved one in a falling object accident, finding an experienced attorney can help you recoup money for medical bills and time lost from work.
How Does a Personal Injury Claim Work?
A personal injury claim seeks to make the employer or property owner responsible for your medical bills and other expenses. You and your attorney will do this by proving the other party acted negligently. Courts define employer negligence as a failure to fulfill a reasonable duty to maintain a safe workplace or property. For example, an employer must keep you safe at work by providing the necessary safety equipment and training. Failure to do so is negligent.
Exceptional Representation for Falling Object Injuries in Texas
The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, based in Dallas, helps injured clients obtain just compensation in Dallas/Fort Worth and all across Texas. We are experienced in personal injury laws, including occupational injuries from falling objects. We have settled cases in and out of court and have brought more than 50 to trial. We provide skilled and effective representation and will work diligently to recover the compensation you deserve. If a falling object accident set you back, don’t struggle to pay medical bills. Let us help you fight for your rights and get the money you need for expenses. We offer a free consultation and there is no fee or expense unless you recover. Contact us for further help today.
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