There are many ways in which holiday shoppers can potentially sustain injuries during the seasonal rush. If those injuries are the result of another person's failure to use reasonable care when they had a duty to do so, that can be grounds to file a claim for damages. The most common shopping accidents are those that involve:
- Motor vehicles (especially in commercial parking lots packed with pedestrians);
- Slippery floors in retail centers and restaurants;
- Falling merchandise due to poorly-packed shelves;
- Criminal assault due to property owner's failure to secure an area when such an attack was reasonably foreseeable.
There are several different legal theories that may be applicable, including general negligence and premises liability. A West Palm Beach personal injury attorney can help injured shoppers determine who may have a legal obligation to compensate them.
Slip and fall injuries at Florida shopping centers
Slip-and-fall accidents occur year-round, but the bustle of the season can have some stores stretched thin and unprepared to promptly address hazards as they arise. One Orlando woman was injured when her wheelchair hit a crack in the sidewalk and turned over. Florida Record reports that she sued the shopping center for failure to use due care and maintain a safe premises. The lawsuit also alleges that the shopping center failed to warn her of dangerous conditions, failed to maintain the premises, and failed to provide proper training to their employees regarding the maintenance and inspection of the property.
This lawsuit is based upon the legal duty store owners have toward their customers. In general, a store which invites members of the public onto its property for the purpose of conducting business has an obligation to inspect the premises and ensure the safety of the public. Florida law imposes additional obligations upon plaintiffs to prove that a store owner violated this duty. For example: Section 768.0755 requires slip-and-fall injury victims prove that a store owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition. Constructive knowledge means that a store owner did not know about the condition, but should have. It may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that the dangerous condition existed for such a length of time. In the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have been aware of the condition.
Parking Lot Car Accidents
Another common site of shopping center injuries is the parking lot. In the confusion of traffic, drivers may fail to see obstructions in the roadway. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and occupants of other vehicles can be injured in parking lot car accidents. If a driver violates a duty of care set forth in the Florida Statutes, such as the right-of-way rules set forth in Section 316.123, or the obligation to control speed in order to avoid a collision as codified in Section 316.183, he or she has a legal obligation to compensate victims who are injured in an accident.
Traffic accidents are not the only danger faced in parking lots. Unfortunately, violence can also erupt. Florida Today reports that an automotive center in Rockledge experienced a random shooting on the day after Thanksgiving. A young man with no connection to the business fired shots from the parking lot into the store. He killed one employee and paralyzed another. Such tragic violence is alarmingly common across the country. When violence happens on the premises of a shopping center - including the parking lot - store owners may be liable for failing to provide adequate security measures.
Contact a West Palm Beach personal injury attorney as soon as possible after any shopping-related injury in order to determine what your legal rights are regarding compensation.