You might not think that you’re at risk when you shop, but thousands of injuries are suffered by shoppers at retail locations every year in the U.S. If you do any shopping – and who doesn’t?

Shopping injuries happen when a store’s manager or owner fails to keep the store and premises safe or fails to warn employees, shoppers, and other visitors about known hazards.

As you might imagine, the number of shopping injuries tends to rise in heavy shopping periods like “Black Friday” and the days leading up to Christmas.

Of course, “shopping injuries” is a generic phrase that describes the variety of personal injuries that can occur when shopping.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON SHOPPING INJURIES?

Admittedly, many of these injuries are minor, but shopping injuries also include head, neck, and spinal injuries, sprains, broken bones, and in some cases, catastrophic and disabling injuries.

The specific shopping-related injuries that may occur on a retailer’s premises include but are not limited to:

1. slipping or tripping and falling on wet floors or torn carpets, or due to poor lighting, or due to escalator malfunctions

2. head and other injuries caused by falling items, falling retail displays, trying to reach out-of-reach objects, and similar mishaps

3. injuries caused by falling shopping carts or collisions with shopping carts

4. injuries caused by overcrowding such as trampling and broken feet, toes, and legs

5. parking lot injuries caused by cracks and potholes in pavement, failure to remove snow or ice, poor storm drainage, or a poor parking lot design

WHAT ARE THE OBLIGATIONS OF PROPERTY OWNERS?

California law requires the owners of commercial properties to use reasonable care to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe from hazardous conditions.

Spills must be cleaned up immediately. Broken stairs and railings must be repaired as soon as possible. Dimmed bulbs must be replaced. In general, adequate security must be provided.

If you are injured on a commercial property because of an owner’s or manager’s negligence, in most cases you will be able to seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim.

In southern California, you’ll need to discuss your injury and claim – as quickly as possible after you’ve been injured – with an experienced Pasadena premises liability lawyer.

WHAT MUST YOU PROVE TO WIN A PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIM?

To prevail with a premises liability claim against a retailer, an injury victim and his or her attorney must prove:

1. The property owner was aware (or should have been aware) of a hazardous condition.

2. The property owner failed to inspect the property for hazards or to provide adequate maintenance.

3. The hazardous condition was a direct cause of the victim’s injury.

4. The victim sustained actual quantifiable damages as a result of the incident.

Retail property owners faced with a premises liability claim may insist that no hazardous condition existed, that the owner had no prior knowledge of a hazard, or that the hazard was so obvious that no warning was needed.

Sometimes a property owner’s defense in a premises liability case is to blame the victim.

A property owner may argue that the injury didn’t really happen on his or her property as alleged, or that it happened in or on a part of the property where no customers are permitted.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE INJURED WHILE SHOPPING?

If you are injured while shopping, seek or summon medical attention immediately. The moment you are injured, that is the only priority.

Some injuries can be tough to detect or identify; others can stay latent, sometimes for weeks, and then develop into a dangerous medical condition. After any accident, you must be examined by a healthcare professional.

If you don’t seek treatment at once, and you file a lawsuit later, the property owner may claim that you weren’t very injured if you didn’t need medical attention, and a jury might agree.

After you’ve been examined and/or treated, report the injury to the property owner or store manager. Many restaurants, hotels, and retailers have pre-printed accident report forms.

When you make an accident report this way, stick to the facts, keep it brief, and don’t say anything that may be used against you.

By seeking medical attention first and then reporting the incident, you’re doing everything by the book, creating documentation, and establishing your credibility in case a legal action is needed.

Make and keep copies of the medical paperwork, the accident report, and any other documents arising from the accident and injury.

HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP?

Your next step – and take it as quickly as you can – is to put your case in the hands of an experienced Pasadena premises liability lawyer.

A good liability lawyer can determine whether a store was at fault for your injury. If so, your attorney may be able to help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and more.

After a commercial property injury, the property owner’s insurance company may try to contact you. Make no statement – instead, refer the company to your lawyer.

Premises liability attorneys in California are trained negotiators who routinely negotiate with insurance companies and know what it takes to prevail.

WILL YOUR CASE BECOME A COURTROOM TRIAL?

Courtroom trials arising from premises liability claims are in fact rare. In the vast majority of these cases, attorneys for both parties negotiate an out-of-court settlement that’s acceptable to everyone involved.

Many businesses, for example, want to avoid the publicity of a trial, so quick and reasonable settlements are not uncommon in these cases.

WHY DO YOU NEED TO ACT AT ONCE?

The statute of limitations for premises liability cases in this state gives an injury victim two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against those who may be liable. After two years, you cannot file a premises liability lawsuit.

But don’t wait two years – or even two weeks – to seek legal help if you’ve been injured because someone else was negligent. Take your case to the right attorney at once.

Most injury attorneys offer a free first consultation, so it costs you nothing as an injury victim to learn more about your rights and where you stand legally.

Nothing’s more important than your health and your future. If you’ve been injured because a property owner was negligent, get an attorney’s help, and exercise your rights.

If you’ve been injured by negligence, help is here, and it costs you nothing, but you must take the first step and make the call.