Shoppers at a store are sometimes unexpectedly hit by falling merchandise. This may be because the products are stacked quickly on precariously high shelves by a store employee, or because the shelves are not adequate to support the products' weight, or because another shopper took the merchandise of the shelves and replaced it so that it sat precariously. These accidents sometimes surprise their victims with how devastating they can be. If the merchandise is heavy, for example, catastrophic brain injury has been known to occur. At the Dean Law Firm, our premises liability attorneys help victims of negligent enterprises in the Ocala area seek compensation for their harm.Seek Compensation from a Negligent Store
In Florida, you can sue for compensation if you are injured on someone else's property and the property owner owed you a duty of care. All property owners and occupiers have a duty to keep their premises in reasonably safe conditions for those who come onto the property. The highest duty of care is owed to an invitee, which is someone invited onto the property for a public or commercial purpose. A store's customers are invitees, and the store is required to correct any known dangers and warn of dangers it knew or should have known about that an invitee could not know about in the exercise of reasonable care.
As a plaintiff, you also would need to prove that the store breached its duty of care, that the breach caused your injuries, and that you incurred actual damages. Generally, a store can be held responsible for an employee's negligence under the doctrine of vicarious liability, which allows an employer to be held liable for an employee's negligence when he or she acts negligently within the course and scope of employment. This means that if a store manager rather than the store owner authorized boxes to be stacked too high to be stable, you still may be able to collect damages from the store.
If you are able to prove the elements of a premises liability lawsuit, you can possibly recover all damages that arise from the falling merchandise accident. This includes medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment. However, when a defendant asserts that you were comparatively negligent in Florida, damages may be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
For example, if a shelf could not withstand the weight of a particular piece of merchandise, but you were the one to remove the merchandise and re-shelve it, only to have it fall and hit you, the jury may assess your degree of carelessness. If the total damages were $100,000, and the jury finds you were 50% at fault and the store was 50% at fault, you can only recover $50,000 from the defendant.
It is rare, but falling merchandise can cause death. When this happens, family members of the deceased person can bring wrongful death lawsuits to recover compensation such as medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost income, and loss of companionship. A wrongful death lawsuit in Florida must be brought within two years of the death.Explore Your Options After a Slip and Fall with an Ocala Attorney
At the Dean Law Firm, our Ocala lawyers understand the toll that injuries from a slip and fall can take on accident victims and their families. We are committed to pursuing the full spectrum of compensation for our clients. Call us at 352-387-8700 or contact us via our online form. We represent injured individuals throughout the state, including those in Crystal River and the Villages as well as communities throughout Sumter, Citrus, Lake, Levy, and Marion Counties.