Many big-box and discount stores stack store merchandise on high shelves. Sometimes these are improperly stacked or secured. Falling merchandise sounds like a minor accident, but when pieces of heavy merchandise are stacked at heights of one to two stories, they can cause extremely serious injuries to customers. At Sharifi Firm, our premises liability attorneys can help victims in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere in Southern California pursue compensation after accidents involving falling merchandise.Holding a Property Owner Accountable for Falling Merchandise
Under California Civil Code section 1714(a), a person or entity is responsible for injuries caused to others due to a lack of ordinary care in managing a property, except to the extent the injured person has brought the injury upon himself or herself due to lack of reasonable care or a willful action. This general rule applies to property owners or occupiers, which owe a duty to their customers to avoid exposing them to an unreasonable risk of harm while shopping.
To establish a premises liability claim in California, a plaintiff must prove that:
- The defendant owned, leased, or occupied the property;
- The defendant was negligent in using or maintaining the property;
- The plaintiff was injured on the premises; and
- The defendant's negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff's injuries.
A property owner can potentially be held liable for failing to take action to make sure that merchandise is stacked and secured appropriately to avoid harm to customers.
In these types of cases, a defendant may try to shift liability to a plaintiff by claiming, for example, that the victim created the imbalance that led to the falling merchandise. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, a plaintiff's damages may be reduced by his or her degree of fault. If the merchandise fell from a height onto a passing store customer, however, it is less likely that the store will be able to argue that this was in some way the customer's fault.
In most cases, you can seek compensatory damages in a falling merchandise case. These generally include economic damages, such as your medical bills, lost income, and out-of-pocket costs. They may also extend to non-economic damages, such as mental anguish and pain and suffering.
A store cannot escape its liability by arguing that the duty for adequately securing merchandise should be borne by a supplier or other entity that stacks the shelves with merchandise. A property owner holds a nondelegable duty to maintain property in a safe condition for customers or others invited onto the premises.Seek Compensation for Your Injuries by Consulting a Los Angeles Attorney
In some cases, there is video footage available of an accident in a store. However, some stores tape over their surveillance tapes as soon as a week after an accident as part of their usual business practices. If you are hurt due to falling merchandise in a Los Angeles store, the slip and fall lawyers at Sharifi Firm can help you sue the store and any other responsible party. You can focus on obtaining medical care and taking time to recover, knowing that we are working hard on building your case. We also represent accident victims in San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, and Temecula, among other cities. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.