The holidays are a season to be merry and jovial, but they’re also one of the most dangerous times of the year. Holiday decorating causes more than 15,000 injuries alone, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, while heading to snowy locations to participate in activities like skiing or snowboarding pose bodily dangers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are 30.6 million emergency department visits a year for unintentional injuries, many of which are suffered during the holiday season, and there are 135,928 fatalities caused by unintentional injury. Unintentional injury is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States.
Shopping malls may not feature high-intensity sports or cause shoppers to engage in risky behaviors like climbing ladders, but they can still pose dangers, particularly during times of massive sales. Trampling by crowds, slip and fall injuries because of spills that were left unattended, and even falling objects that come off shelves and hit shoppers are all things to be aware of as you shop. If you experience an injury while shopping during this holiday season, here is what to do.
Ask for Help
Whether you slip and fall, get hit by an object, or are harmed by a reckless shopper, immediately ask a store employee for help. If someone else was involved in the injury, ask them to stay at the scene as documentation occurs. Do not admit fault.
There may be many causes of a personal injury sustained while holiday shopping. Some are due to negligence on behalf of store staff, which may hold the company liable. When a store manager knows about a dangerous condition on the property that causes an injury, or if employees are not properly trained to maintain safety in a store, an employer can be held liable. Examples of when negligence may be a factor include:
- A spill occurred, and there was no warning about it before it was cleaned up, which left shoppers vulnerable to slip
- Broken glass or nails were on the floor, but staff were too busy checking out customers to remove them
- A faulty clothing rack was known about but wasn’t switched out and collapsed on a shopper
- In the rush of tending to shoppers, a box was left unsecured on a shelf before it fell
- Floors or flooring materials weren’t properly maintained – improperly maintained floors contribute to more than 2 million fall injuries a year, according to the National Floor Safety Institute
- Crowds are not controlled by store personnel, which results in trampling injuries
Ask the store manager to fill out a store incident report that documents the accident. Make sure the report includes:
- The employee(s) or name and contact information of any other party involved
- What the store conditions were like at the time of the accident
- Any injuries sustained
- Any witness accounts from customers or employees who saw the injury occur
Take your own photos or video of the scene of the accident. Pay attention to any elements of the scene that may be hazardous, such as liquid on the ground or apparatus that is not properly secured. Ask the store manager is there was video surveillance of the store, and ask for a copy of the footage.
Ask for a copy of the incident report for your own records. Before leaving the store, get the contact information of all employees, customers and witnesses involved. Also, obtain contact information for the store’s insurance company, and ask when you can expect to be contacted by the insurance company.
Medical treatment is one of the most powerful elements of a personal injury claim, and it’s important to seek it after an injury while shopping for the holidays. You may have injuries that aren’t immediately noticeable, or you may . have an injury that you think is minor may be more severe than you realize. If emergency services are not called, go to a doctor on your own, and organize all medical files.
You should keep a journal of how your injuries progress each day after the accident. Create a binder for documents for all doctor visits, be vigilant of any worsening of an injury, and seek further treatment if you think you need it.
Keep Accounts of Lost Wages
If the injury you experience causes you to miss work, make sure you have documentation of any lost wages. You can ask your employer for this verification, and keep it with your medical records to stay organized.
Contact a Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyer
If you think your injury you experienced while holiday shopping may have been due to negligence, you should contact a Phoenix slip and fall lawyer or personal injury attorney for a free consultation. Severe injuries that require hospitalization, or that result in broken bones, head injuries, back injuries, or other issues that require substantial medical expenses mean it’s worth talking with an attorney.
Matt Millea is a Scottsdale slip and fall lawyer who has extensive experience working for personal injury victims. Contact the Millea Law Firm at (480) 462-5540 for more information, or visit us online for Phoenix personal injury lawyer information.