By Staff Writer
In the Spanish town of Pamplona, the bulls are released once a year to run the streets. For eight days, there is happy chaos. Thrill-seekers party through the night and blearily face the honor of a racing a group of raging bulls the next morning. Some are injured, some die.
On the other side of the Atlantic, another ritual annually fills the headlines. It also involves people running, and all-night vigils are not uncommon.
In Pamplona, the bulls stampede. In America, it is the people. In America, there are not eight days to compete, but only one long weekend. One weekend to seek and find the thrill, to complete the ritual: the four-day Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend.
In the US, Thanksgiving and Black Friday are the biggest shopping days of the year. According to some 2019 statistics, more than 84 million people shopped in stores on Black Friday in 2019, up about 17 million in 2018 figures.
Shoppers spend, on average, just over $1,000 each, and about 70% of this are on seasonal deals and promotions and gifts. People stampede to get their hands on the biggest bargains!
Commonly seen injuries over Thanksgiving weekend
As in Spain, during the running of the bulls, people get injured. Most incidents occur inside retail stores, with 20% of this as people first pour through the doors.
People fight in-store over bargains.
In one incident, five people got into a fight at Khol’s in Tustin, California. Two of the women ended up being injured in their faces. In Palm Desert, California, in 2008, two men got in a gunfight in the local Toys R Us on Black Friday. Both died. Muggers pry on people leaving overfull stores to steal their Black Friday goods.
Upset people that were unable to get the bargain they wanted have also been known to attack those leaving the store who had the item they wanted.
Slip and falls
When it is raining or snowing outside, trodden-in water can create slippery surfaces in-store. It is not uncommon to see people slipping and falling inside stores during Thanksgiving weekend.
Stampedes and crowding are common on Black Friday. You can be shoved, trampled on, or injured when reaching for products.
In 2011, on Black Friday, a teenage girl was knocked over at a Walmart Supercentre in Muskegon and stepped on repeatedly as people rushed to an electronic department sale. She had to be taken to hospital. Brain injury or head trauma is not uncommon on Thanksgiving weekend.
Shopping care injuries
Shopping carts full of objects can hit others, injure small children, or can become a tripping hazard.
Even shopping baskets can be hazardous. In Illinois, a woman tripped over a shopping basket in a Kmart store on Black Friday 2013. She claimed that the store was negligent in the placing of the basket.
Hurt in-store: What can you do?
If you had been injured in a stampede or other injury on Black Friday, you might very well have a legitimate claim against the store owner. Retail outlet owners have a responsibility and an obligation towards customers – they must keep their spaces as safe as possible.
On Black Friday weekend, the burden of care on shopkeepers are increased. They should anticipate the crowds, study typical behavior, and prepare for it.
On this weekend, ‘normal’ dangers such as spilled drinks, merchandise falling, or crowded emergency exits, can intensify and become more frequent. Store managers must be more aware, identify risk, and react quickly.
However, it is essential to establish liability if you want to hold someone responsible for your accident.
Say someone attacked you in-store on Black Friday. Yes, the attacker is responsible for your injuries, but you may also have a claim against the store owner if there was not adequate added security.
In the same way, if you were harmed entering a store (or leaving), the store can be held liable. Everybody knows there could be a stampede or additional security risks. Storeowners must have precautions in place for the extra volume of customers they expect.
If you slipped and fell in a store, the owner of the retail store can be held liable if the property owner knew of the dangerous condition and took no action to rectify the situation.
A successful claim
To be successful in your claim against a shop owner after a Thanksgiving-weekend injury, you and your lawyer should be able to prove that there was a particularly dangerous condition that caused your accident on Black Friday.
Furthermore, you must prove that the retailer did one of the following:
- He knew about the dangerous condition and chose not to do anything about it. (An example is a huge slippery patch of water that his employees told him about.)
- He should have known that something dangerous could happen and still did nothing about it. (The big entrance doors were faulty on its rails for weeks now.)
- He did not post adequate warnings about the dangerous condition. (Beware! Broken stairs, do not enter.)
What should I do if I was hurt on Black Friday?
Attract the attention of a store employee or store manager as soon as possible. Ask for assistance to get medical help if needed. Insist that someone write up an incident report. It might be crucial to your case later. If they say they are too busy, don’t take it for an answer.
If you are taken to hospital, obtain copies of all medical records that relate to your injury and treatment. The copies will illustrate what happened to you and connect your injuries to the accident.
It might be that you only feel the hurt later. Should you go to the doctor or emergency room only later, be sure to start creating a medical paper trail so that your injuries can be attributed to your in-store Black Friday accident.
Visual evidence is convincing
If it is possible and you can take photos, do so. Visual evidence (also video footage) can be especially useful later to show what actually happened and as evidence of what caused the accident.
What did you see?’
If there are any eyewitnesses to the accident, be sure to get their contact details. Your lawyer can contact these people later to back up your story.
Keep records of all conversations, especially those by email, that can be traced back to your accident. It can be compelling evidence.
Contact your primary physician
Medical files from your primary medical doctor can attest to your health before the accident. It can show just how relentlessly the disaster impacted your health.
Keep the following in mind on your next Black Friday
Avoid the masses! If possible, don’t be in front of the doors, waiting for them to open. When the people at the back start pushing, an incredible amount of pressure could be on you. If you trip and fall, you can be seriously hurt as everyone surge forward.
Look out for the carts. People fill carts to the brim and do not watch where they are going. Keep your small children close.
Staff may not be as attentive as always. Would you be if you have to re-stock and handle strange queries at an alarming speed? Staff is probably less likely to notice beverage spills or other dangerous conditions that might have occurred due to the crowds. Be extra vigilant and look out.
If you find yourself getting frustrated with other shoppers or angry, remember – it is just stuff! Think again if that astonishing microwave deal is worth getting hurt over. You are worth much more than the ‘stuff’ everyone is fighting over on Thanksgiving weekend.
Shop online. Many of the same deals are also available online – away from the physical stores. You don’t have to fight other shoppers in person – cozy up at home!
Being harmed during a holiday weekend, while doing shopping can be a horrifying experience. Please keep our tips in mind this season. Black Friday brings out the competitive in people. Some can lose perspective, become irresponsible, and even violent.
You might need help
If you or someone you love had been hurt in a Black Friday incident, it might be best to contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance. Retail store owners have a higher duty of care during this crazy time of year. You might have a particularly good case, and with the right help, you can receive compensation for your injuries.
And on your next Black Friday? Spare a thought for the bulls of Pamplona. They also stampede and are stressed, but in the end, they have nothing to show for their efforts.
You, on the other hand, can at least walk out with a new microwave.
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