For many, the holiday season begins on Black Friday, historically, the
day that retailers finally emerged from the "red" into the black
and started making profits. Today, despite the increasing popularity of
online retailers, the day after Thanksgiving is still one during which
crowds line up days in advance for door-buster deals and the corridors
of malls across the U.S. are as congested as airport waiting areas. While
it's unlikely that a trip to the emergency room is on the top of anyone's
minds when heading to the stores, busy environments during the holidays
can magnify the dangers that are present year-round.
Dangers confront shoppers even before they step into a store. In fact,
almost 25 percent of Black Friday accident claims occur in parking lots. Though car to car
contact such as rear-ending someone or striking a parked car was most
common, drivers also frequently hit poles, shopping carts and corrals,
and even pedestrians. In rare cases, drivers can lose control of their
vehicles with tragic results as recently occurred in
New York when an elderly couple died after their station wagon struck a light pole
With parking space becoming a valuable commodity in the days leading up
to the gift-giving holidays, drivers can become more aggressive, which,
in turn, increases the likelihood of accidents.
In the event that you cause an accident to a parked car that is not occupied,
leaving a note with contact information is critical to avoiding a hit-and-run
conviction. Many retailers also employ parking enforcement that patrol
the lots. It is a good idea to proactively contact such an employee to
locate the owner of the struck car as well as to act as a neutral third-party
witness who may be able to provide information in later insurance proceedings.
Finally, it is important to contact an attorney if there are injuries
involved or if the damages to either vehicle are extensive.
Another danger that is magnified during the holidays--especially for older
Americans--is fall accidents, which are a leading cause of injury-related
hospitalization and deaths. With rushing crowds and excitement surrounding
goods on sale, older adults are particularly vulnerable to slip-and-fall
accidents. While store personnel are trained to monitor floors and aisles
for fallen items or liquid spills, oversight can be lacking when the number
of customers overwhelm the employees on duty. Moreover, as the temperatures
fall, it is more difficult to maintain dry sidewalks surrounding store
To stay safe in stores and to avoid a life-threatening injury, shoppers should:
- Alert store staff to slipping hazards such as spills, loose rugs or mats,
or icy sidewalks;
- Ask store staff for help carrying large or bulky items that may obscure
one's field of vision;
- Avoid shopping at peak hours and weekends when crowds are largest and wait
times are longest; and
- Use a cane or walker and ask for scooters if the store has them available.
If you or a loved one is involved in either an accident that occurred in
a store parking lot or suffers a fall near or inside a store, it is important
to remember that early contact with an attorney is critical. An experienced
lawyer from The Pittman Firm can quickly evaluate your case and devise
a plan to gather factual information and witnesses to strengthen your
claim. Call us today for a free consultation.