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The perils of Black Friday shopping

The holiday season brings out the best (and unfortunately, the worst) in shoppers. With all the holiday deals that become available on Black Friday (or for this year, Black Thanksgiving night), there is the possibility that shoppers will be injured. Every year, it appears that shoppers are injured when caught under swarming crowds who are jockeying for position to get to limited supplies of specially priced deals designed to get them into the store.

While it may seem far-fetched for shoppers to be hurt while shopping, consider this. According to the website Buzzfeed.com, 225 million people shopped on Black Friday in 2012. Also, 57 percent of people surveyed participate in Black Friday events find the experience to be fun. With so many people clamoring to get into stores (or to specially priced items) it is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

Because of the specter of injury, retailers are tasked with the legal duty of using reasonable care in making sure that patrons are safe while shopping. This includes adding extra security to direct customers to checkout counters and exits, training staff members to deal with crowds, and making plans to communicate problems or information to patrons. Most importantly, retailers must provide reasonable access for handicapped consumers and be wary of store occupancy numbers.

Should a retailer fail to do these things, and a patron is injured, the store could be held liable. In this situation, an injured shopper can seek monetary compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills associated with the injury as well as compensation for lost wages.

Source: OSHA.gov, “Black Friday CEO letter,” November 8, 2013

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