I Was Injured During Black Friday. Do I have a claim?

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Every year after a day of thanksgiving and good food, flash sales and bargains bring hopeful hoards of shoppers to malls and stores for Black Friday. Millions of Americans rush storefronts, break barricades, and invoke chaos every year in hopes of getting that perfect Christmas gift for their loved ones or snagging great deals. 

But there’s a dark side. Over the twelve years since 2011, 11 people have lost their lives in Black Friday-related incidents, with another 108 injured. With dangerous crowd surges and a continual rise in violence, it’s important to know your rights. Whether you’re an employee or a consumer, if you’re injured on Black Friday, you may be entitled to compensation.

Risks on Black Friday

There are several situations that could happen on Black Friday that put both workers and consumers at risk. The most well-known risk associated with the holiday are crowd surges and trampling. Shops on Black Friday see a huge influx of people coming through the door, and in many cases, employers, employees, and customers alike are caught unprepared. The low prices and sales on Black Friday are known to cause frenzy, and eager crowds have been known to “swallow” up people as consumers shove, grab, and pull themselves forward to get to merchandise first. 

These types of trampling can be deadly. In 2008 a Walmart employee was trampled to death after a crowd of almost 2,000 people rushed into the store. 

Black Friday has also seen its share of gun violence, fist fights, and other injury-causing scenarios. Even here in the Pacific Northwest, 1 man was shot during a dispute on Black Friday and taken to a nearby hospital at the Tacoma Mall in critical condition. 

Responsibilities of the Employer and Building Owner(s)

If you’re an employee working during Black Friday, your employer is responsible for taking measures to secure your safety. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires retail employers to implement certain safety precautions during major sales events in order to keep employees safe from injury and death. These precautions are meant to help traffic flow throughout the store and keep large crowds from forming. The following are some of OSHA’s guidelines for managing crowds during sales events include: 

  • Putting up barricades, chains, or ropes away from the shopfront to keep customers at bay
  • Utilizing crowds control measures preemptively (before customers being to arrive)
  • Hiring security personnel or police officers to stay on site in case necessary
  • Honoring the max. capacity limit of the store and not letting more people in until safe to do so
  • Keeping exits unlocked and clear
  • Having a clear entrance and exit procedure 

Employers are required by law to implement all OSHA guidelines in order to keep their employees safe. In addition, building owners are responsible for making sure the building is safe for customers to visit. If employer or owner fail to fulfill these duties and someone is injured as a result, that party may likely have grounds for a lawsuit. 

If you or a loved one was injured on Black Friday but all of OSHA’s guidelines were followed it may be more difficult to prove your claim.

If you or a loved one was injured this Black Friday and you believe you have a claim to liability, contact one of our attorneys at Evergreen Personal Injury Council.