Stay Safe on Black Friday
Thanksgiving weekend, a treasured time of the year, it kicks off the holiday season. Friends and family gather from near and far to give thanks and celebrate and with food, football, and shopping. Black Friday is as much a part of Thanksgiving tradition as the turkey dinner is, and while American’s love the thrill of the finding a bargain, it can also be a dangerous day. In fact, there are 34% more car accidents on Black Friday compared to the Friday two weeks before and after according to data from Progressive Insurance. The hunt for the bargain can lead to chaos in stores, every year we see news clips and viral videos of violence between shoppers, stampedes and fight breaking out.
Are these Black Friday “deals” worth the risk of injury? What liability do the stores have to protect their customers? Many stores have attempted to control the situation, but it is also a very important day for retailers. The hype of the big crowds and number of customers through their front doors is what is most important to them. Shopping on Black Friday means shopping in hazardous conditions, frenzied shoppers and crushing crowds mean if you choose to participate in shopping on this day you will want to take some precautions.
Here are some tips for staying safe on Black Friday:
- Stay home! Retailers now offer most of the same great deals online. Shop from the comfort and convenience of your own home. Avoid the roads and the stores by shopping online.
- If you do venture out, don’t speed. Rushing to get to the hot deals is not worth a potential car accident that could result in injuries to yourself or others.
- If you love to shop in the stores, wait a few days after Black Friday. The days and weeks after Thanksgiving brings the best deals of the holiday shopping season.
- If you do go early morning on Black Friday, don’t arrive right when the stores open. Avoid the mobs and potential rushing crowds by waiting until the stores have been open for a few hours.
If you Do Get Injured at a Store, What Then?
Finding the perfect gift at an unbelievable price is exciting and enticing for many shoppers. But risking injury or worse can ruin your holiday season. There are well-intentioned shoppers who end up hurt due to “retail-rage”, pushing crowds and pepper spray attacks over the past 10 years.
If you do find yourself in a situation on Black Friday that leaves you with an injury, you will need to understand the retailer’s liability that can get you on the next steps to recovery.
And while we have all seen and heard about extreme incidents that have happened on Black Friday, the most common injuries that result on this day are slips, trips, and falls.
Every day, 25,000 people in the U.S. are injured in slip and fall accidents. Crowds of people in malls and box retail stores on Black Friday increases risk. Floors are slippery from the outdoor elements tracked in by shoppers. Items get dropped and left in the aisle where they land, items fall off of shelves, the obstacles to navigate are even greater on this day.
Safety Tips: Wear sturdy shoes with soles that are not smooth or slick. Try not to rush just to keep up with the crowds. When you are rushed, frustrated or fatigued the chances of tripping and falling increase. Stay alert. Watch where you are going. Look out for debris.
Other potential risks can include pepper spray contact and crowd rush injuries. Stay aware of other shoppers and what is going on around you. If you are feeling uncomfortable in a crowd, try to get out of the situation by backing out and getting out of the pack. If a crowd becomes a stampede, find a place to hide instead of getting caught in it. Lean up against a wall for balance and avoid falling.
Who is Liable for Black Friday Injuries?
Retailers expect massive crowds. So, what is their liability for injuries suffered on their premises?
Under common law, the liability of property owners depended on whether the injured person was a(n):
- Trespasser: one who is on the property uninvited.
- Licensee: one who is on the property with the permission of the owner.
- Invitee: one who is on the property for the purpose of providing a benefit to the business owner.
When businesses invite people to their property for the purpose of spending money, the business owner owes the highest duty of care to the shopper. It’s an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment for employees and a business owner’s responsibility to provide safe premises for shoppers. If they fail to do so, and it results in an injury on Black Friday, the injured party may have grounds for a lawsuit.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established guidelines for crowd management, particularly for events like Black Friday sales. Their Black Friday safety tips include:
- Hiring extra staff and security designed to compensate for the extra shoppers.
- Providing crowd control.
- Making certain no entrances or exits are blocked.
- Having a separate entrance for employees.
- Anticipating and planning for problems that come from increased pedestrian traffic in the store.
The store may not be able to protect you from being hit by an irrational shopper, but they need to have an emergency treatment plan if such a thing should happen.
If you do sustain an injury on Black Friday while shopping, contact the attorneys at Scherr & Scherr LLP to discuss whether you have a lawsuit. Our attorneys can help you investigate your accident and give you a professional opinion. If you are injured at a retail store on Black Friday, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, physical injuries and emotional pain and suffering, lost wages due to your injuries or disability. Black Friday shopping should not become a tragedy because of the negligence of a person or company.
Happy Thanksgiving from Scherr & Scherr and stay safe this holiday season!