Retail stores and other commercial premises have a duty to ensure that guests and customers are safe from harm and to inspect the property at a reasonable frequency to identify and fix or warn against any dangers. There are countless ways that someone can get hurt at a store or other business location, including broken floorboards, faulty staircases, poor electrical wiring, and even falling merchandise. Although some merchandise may be small and light, resulting in no injuries if it falls and strikes someone, there are other situations where entire shelving units tip over and fall on an innocent and unsuspecting person. A skilled Massachusetts premises liability lawyer can assist you in understanding your rights following an unnecessary and avoidable falling merchandise accident.Falling Merchandise Accidents
A falling merchandise incident belongs under the premise liability category of the law. This body of law is designed to provide protections for people who are injured on another person’s property, and includes things like slip and fall cases. Business owners have the highest duty of care in premises liability law to protect guests and customers from on-site hazards that are known or that could have been discovered through a reasonable investigation. A hazard can be a variety of things, including shelving that is not properly secured to the wall, merchandise displays, or items placed carelessly on a shelf.
Although courts understand that retailers use shelving displays and other merchandising techniques quite frequently, they also understand the serious dangers that can result if the units are not installed or maintained in a safe fashion. This often means securing the shelves to the wall so that they cannot be tipped over, making sure that shelves are wide enough and deep enough to hold the specific types of merchandise that may be stored on them, stocking heavier merchandise towards the floor where it is less likely to fall, and checking shelves and other merchandising units on a regular basis to ensure that these safety measures are working.Asserting a Claim for Damages
If you were harmed by falling merchandise, you can bring a personal injury claim to recover for your injuries and damages. In making this claim, you must show that the property owner owed you a duty, failed to maintain the premises according to that duty, and that you suffered foreseeable injuries as a direct result of this failure. As stated above, retailers owe customers and guests invited to the property for business purposes the highest duty of care to make frequent inspections for dangerous conditions, to remedy them, or to provide warnings. A few ways to establish a breach of this duty of care include showing how that the store owner did not secure the merchandise in a reasonably safe manner, that other merchandise had fallen recently, or that there were reasonable precautions that could have been taken to make the shelving display safer. An experienced injury lawyer can help you determine whether the facts of your case can help you make the requisite showing of a breach of duty.
You must also establish causation, which essentially involves proving that you would not have been injured but for the store owner’s failure to act according to the duty of care. If the store owner can show that some other factor was primarily to blame for your injury, you may be barred from recovery. A common example would be a situation where the injured person climbed onto the shelving unit to reach something at the top. The final phase of the litigation involves providing evidence to support the amount of damages that you are seeking. This can include medical bills, future medical expenses, lost earnings, reduced earning capacity, and compensation for disfigurement or pain and suffering.Premises Liability Lawyer for Massachusetts Residents
If you were involved in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident in Massachusetts, you probably have many questions about whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. A seasoned injury attorney can help you understand the legal process, your right to compensation, and how a legal representative can assist you during this stressful and confusing situation. We are available to serve clients in areas around Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, Newton, Waltham, Somerville, Dedham, Norwood, Quincy, Brookline, and Peabody. Call us at 1-800-262-9200 or contact us online to get started.