Each year it seems that the holiday tradition of Thanksgiving is overlooked and shortened by a one of the biggest shopping days of the year, “Black Friday”.  Some consumers refuse to skip Aunt Edith’s pecan pie just to set up camp outside, at the midnight hour, of a big box store, in the hopes of snatching a limited supply of the latest “must have” technology.  Other consumers scan ads days and weeks before the big shopping event of the year, carefully creating a shopping itinerary and getting holiday shopping done in “one fell swoop”.  And so it seems, in the tradition of “Black Friday” comes a personal injury.  Frantic mobs race through double doors of a store, knocking each other over and in some cases, knocking some poor bystander out.  If a shopper is injured on “Black Friday” who is responsible and who takes the blame?

“Black Friday” Madness

As U.S. consumers, many of us compete to get the biggest, best, and newest of products.  Any child of the 1980’s, who pined over the coveted “Cabbage Patch Kid”, may remember seeing news footage of parents violently scrambling to get their hands on another doll to add to their child’s growing collection.  With “Black Friday” becoming more popular over the years, pushing the Thanksgiving holiday to the back seat, the crowds of consumers continue to compete, become more violent, and more impatient.

On “Black Friday” in 2011, at a California Wal-Mart, Elizabeth Macias was arrested after she sprayed pepper spray on nearby customers waiting to snatch up an X-Box console and games.  While it was undetermined whether or not her action was done out of self-defense against the swarming crowd or with malicious intent, Macias’ action caused personal injuries to several adults and children.  Macias’ incident is just one of many that occur across the U.S. the day after Thanksgiving.

Injured On “Black Friday”: Who’s At Fault?

Assigning Blame on “Black Friday”

If you are injured during a mad rush through a store’s double doors, it may be difficult to determine who is at fault for your injury.  You may be certain that it was the aggressive woman behind you that pushed you to the floor, but maybe it was someone behind her that made her push you; kind of a chain reaction action.  First of all, if you are injured while shopping on “Black Friday”, you will most likely want to hire an attorney specializing in personal injury.  If you were injured in a “mob of shoppers” you may have a negligence action against the store.  According to the American Bar Association, a public property, such as a shopping mall, store, or other entities may be responsible for your injury if it is proven that they did not “exercise reasonable care in preventing victims from being harmed by a third person”.

On a huge shopping event, such as “Black Friday”, it could be assumed that a store must have adequate security to keep shoppers from taking unlawful actions.  Regardless, it will be up to the court to decide who is to blame for your injury.

If your personal injury occurred because you slipped and fell or tripped over a floor display, the store may be liable for your injury, however, you will need to prove if the store is at fault. For example, if you slipped on a puddle of spilled liquid, it is the store’s responsibility to clean up a mess quickly and they will have to prove that they didn’t know such spill existed.  If you tripped over a floor display, you will need to prove that it was hazardous, as the defendant may try to argue that the display was obvious and hard to miss.

Stay Safe while Shopping for Bargains

If you have decided to add “Black Friday” shopping to your holiday traditions, you may want to consider the following tips to reduce your risk of a personal injury:

  • Wear comfortable clothing.  Make sure your clothing is not too loose as it could get caught on display racks or become a “handle” for an aggressive, competitive shopper.
  • Be patient.  Everyone is excited for a good bargain, but keep your safety a priority.  Don’t push other customers and don’t be aggressive (physically or verbally) against others.
  • Leave the kids at home.  If possible, don’t take your small children shopping on “Black Friday” as it may only increase their risk of getting hurt.
  • Wear good shoes.  Not only is it important to wear good shoes when you are standing for hours, but well-fitting shoes with a good tread will decrease your chance of slipping in a store.

“Black Friday”, for many bargain shoppers, is the best shopping day of the year, for others it conjures up bad memories or physical, financial, and emotional pain.  Instead of battling the crowds and putting yourself at risk for a personal injury, you might want to stay at home and have one more piece of Aunt Edith’s pecan pie.