Falling merchandise and machinery causes an astounding number of accidents at big box stores such as Lowes, Wallmart and Home Depot. For an unsuspecting customer, getting crushed by falling merchandise from stacked up pallets directly overhead is a tragic event.
Those forklift drivers weaving through the aisles stacking goods know what they are doing, right?
In an ABC News article, “Merchandise Falling from Megastore Shelves Can Be Fatal” http://www.fallingmerchandise.com/acrobat/megastoredangers.asp, it is reported that at Walmart in 1998, over 4,000 claims of injuries were reported due to falling merchandise. The same news report noted the case of 79-year-old Mary Penruff, “who was killed in a Home Depot store in Los Angeles when a pile of falling lumber crushed her after a 19-year-old forklift operator accidentally knocked it over.” Home Depot paid out $900,000 in punitive damages; however, they defend that they are “working to keep their stores safe.”
Home Depot refuses to state how many accidents consumers suffer due to falling goods and out of control machines at their store; however, the victims of these tragedies include a 21-month-old baby that was killed by kitchen counter shrapnel when a palette of merchandise spilled down from a forklift and shattered all over the aisle , according to “Biz Journals”, http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2003/02/24/story2.html.
It was too late for the home improvement megastore to apologize, as the toddler’s mom watched in horror as her child was fatally wounded.
There doesn’t need to be a forklift in sight for falling merchandise to maim or kill a customer or employee. All it takes is a slight shift in the distribution of weight or a sudden vibration to start an avalanche. Due to confidentially agreements, it is obvious that many of these accidents at big box stores are never publicly reported. The “Biz Journal” article cites that entering a big box store is like entering an industrial warehouse.
Stores are employing measures to improve safety; however, these accidents are still happening. Victims and their families are fighting back by filing suits against big box stores that still choose to pile up merchandise directly above the shopper’s heads, and take the risk that perhaps it may not fall on shoppers. Litigation is the only recourse for these victims to be heard. Litigation is also the most effective way to make big box stores that turn a blind eye to suffering improve their safety practices.
When an accident in Rhode Island or Massachusetts is due to falling merchandise or store machinery, it’s imperative to seek medical attention, and contact a Rhode Island personal injury law firm that specializes in RI personal injury law.