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Keeping customers safe during the Black Friday extravaganza

On the day after Thanksgiving, huge crowds will line up outside of storefronts in order to find the best deals they can for the holiday season. The situation can get especially dangerous when crowd conditions are not properly managed. In fact, there have been incidents where customers have died in Black Friday stampedes.

In this respect, Black Friday is not only physically dangerous for customers, but it also opens up premises liability concerns for the store owners. If a customer is hurt in a Black Friday stampede, the store owner's diligence to prevent such injuries is called into question. Did the store owner offer up bargains and sales, knowing that this would create shopper mayhem, but do nothing or little to prevent injuries from happening?

Under premises liability theory, store owners must take reasonable efforts to prevent hazards from happening. For example, if stampedes are a possibility, efforts need to be made to ensure that the store-opening procedure is done in a way that controls crowds, and makes sure that customers are entering the store slowly and safely to prevent slip-and-fall accidents. Efforts must also be made to prevent injuries from falling merchandise and boxes.

In New Jersey, customers should also do whatever they can to stay safe. Understand that even though store owners may be liable in the event of an on-premises injury, it is always preferable to prevent getting injured in the first place. Be watchful, be cautious and look out for dangers. Then, if in spite of all best efforts, a Black Friday injury does happen while shopping, know it may be possible to pursue financial compensation for injuries by filing a personal injury claim.

Source: Goldstein & Goldstein LLP, "Premises Liability," accessed Nov. 01, 2016

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