From retail shops to restaurants, shopping malls have a little something for everyone. Unfortunately, even the best malls are never completely free of hazards. Property owners have an obligation to maintain their stores, parking lots, and walkways, but it is still a good idea to use caution when you shop. Follow these tips to prevent injuries the next time you visit your favorite mall.
1. Poorly Maintained Lots and Walkways
Potholes, cracked asphalt, and uneven walkways are just a few of the hazards commonly found around the exterior of a shopping center. While walking from your car to the mall entrance, glance down every so often to make sure you aren't about to step in a hole or trip over a crack. Use caution when using sidewalks, outdoor patios, and other exterior areas of the mall. Avoid areas marked with warning signs or traffic cones.
2. Slippery Floors
If shoppers don't wipe their feet before entering the mall, they are likely to track water, snow, and mud throughout the shopping center. As you walk through the each store, look for wet spots in high-traffic areas. Check to see if there are any shiny spots caused by a build-up of wax on the floor. Pay careful attention to the floors around beverage dispensers and ice machines in the food court.
3. Stacks of Inventory
Some merchants store excess inventory on tall shelving units instead of keeping extra items in a separate stock room. If a stack of merchandise falls while you are walking by, there is a good chance it will knock you over. Stay far away from stacks of merchandise by walking at the center of the aisle instead of walking close to the edge. If you notice a stack of merchandise that looks like it's about to topple over, alert a manager and be sure to avoid that particular aisle.
4. Busy Employees
Sometimes it's not stacks of merchandise or slippery floors that put your safety at risk; it's store employees. As an example, a customer sustained serious injuries when an employee of a Florida home-improvement retailer ran into him with a forklift. Make sure you keep an eye out for employees carrying heavy boxes or operating mechanical equipment. If an employee can't see you, he might knock you over while putting merchandise on the sales floor.
5. Tripping Hazards
Customers don't always put unwanted merchandise back where it belongs, so watch out for potential obstacles as you walk through the mall. Look for clothing hangers, accessories, shoes, magazines, books, and other items. If you stop for a bite to eat at the food court, watch out for discarded food and beverage containers, hamburger toppings, ice cubes, and other hazards.
6. Unsafe Retail Displays
Store employees are under a tremendous amount of pressure to set displays quickly so they have time to complete all of their other tasks. As a result, not all displays are as safe as they should be. If you notice that a merchandise rack isn't secured properly, let the store manager know. Watch out for shaky shelving units and unsafe checkout counters to reduce your risk of falls, head injuries, contusions, and other types of accidents.
7. Shopping Carts
Damaged shopping carts have the potential to tip over, causing fractures, sprains, concussions, and other injuries in adults and children. A damaged cart can even trap a child underneath it, causing serious distress for both parent and baby. When you enter a store, select a shopping cart that does not squeak or have any visible defects. If you find it difficult to steer the cart, exchange it for a different cart to reduce your risk of injury.
If you are injured at a shopping mall, the property owner may be liable for your injuries. If you are not sure who is at fault, the best thing to do is contact a personal injury attorney, like one from Hardee and Hardee LLP, right away. A skilled attorney can gather evidence, question witnesses, and determine if your case has merit. Your attorney will also explain the filing process and help you prepare for court so you have the best possible chance of winning compensation for your medical expenses and pain.