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Did you shop yourself into the hospital this past holiday season?

Did you enter the New Year suffering the consequences of a shopping injury? Then you might have questions about your rights to seek recovery of financial and other damages. The volumes of shoppers in retail establishments during the holidays increase the chances of incidents that could cause injuries.

While many shopping injuries are minor, visits to stores and shopping malls could result in sprains, fractured bones, spinal and neck injuries, head trauma and even fatalities. Although it might not be easy to prove, property owners and their tenants might be liable for damages.

Premises liability claims

New Jersey store owners must comply with the premises liability laws of the state. These typically require the owners and tenants to take reasonable care to protect customers from harm. They must put out warning signs when they cannot immediately rectify hazardous conditions and hidden dangers.

Typical shopping hazards

Store owners must ensure there are no spills, fallen objects, broken railings or stairs, dimmed light bulbs, and security risks. The following circumstances may pose injury risks on your shopping trips:

  • Overcrowding: During exceptionally hectic periods, such as the time leading up to Christmas and on Black Friday, there is a real risk of being trampled.
  • Slip or trip-and-fall accidents: Wet and slippery floors, insufficient lighting, torn carpets, malfunctioning escalators and an endless list of other objects could cause you to trip or slip and fall.
  • Shopping cart hazards: A tipping cart can cause a fall that might result in severe injuries.
  • Falling objects:Unbalanced displays, falling merchandise and objects put in out-of-reach places can cause serious head or body injuries.
  • Dangerous parking lots: Cracked walking surfaces, accumulation of snow and ice and other hazards in parking lots can lead to severe injuries. Furthermore, negligent security can cause life-threatening situations.

How do you prove a store owner's liability?

For a premises liability claim to be valid, you must establish the following:

  • Duty: The owner of the store had a duty to maintain safe surroundings for shoppers.
  • Knowledge: He or she was aware of the hazard -- or should have been aware of it.
  • Breach of duty: The failure to carry out frequent inspections to identify dangerous conditions, and also to have a proper maintenance schedule constituted the breach of duty.
  • Causation: The perilous situation that resulted from this breach caused your injury.
  • Liability: The injury you suffered led to economic and non-economic damages.

Navigating the lawsuit

While it may all seem clear-cut to you, you can be sure the store owner will deny liability for your shopping injuries. Establishing the different aspects of negligence can be challenging. However, you need not fight this battle alone. An experienced New Jersey premises liability attorney can assist with establishing negligence and navigate the legal proceedings on your behalf.

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