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Supermarket Pallet Injuries and Liability

For the most part, when we think of all the ways we can injure ourselves in a store, we imagine slippery floors, falling objects, or burns. However, a large number of accidents also occur each year with relation to pallets, also occasionally referred to as skids. Every store utilizes these objects to unload and stock goods, but you’d be amazed at the damage they can cause with the help of a little negligence. 

Before we discuss the legal concepts surrounding these accidents and the injuries they cause, it’s important to note that any injury claim will require the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Van Law Firm has protected accident victims’ rights for nearly ten years now, and we’re always pursuing new cases. Call our office nearest you to get started. 

How and Why Do Pallet Injuries Happen? 

Pallet injuries happen whenever store employees bring pallets onto the sales floor. To be clear, there is no law prohibiting this, it is just considered by stores to be a greater liability risk than necessary, and for good reason. Pallets are very big and heavy even when empty, and when loaded they can be extremely dangerous if mishandled. The standard wooden pallet measures at 40” x 48” which is a gigantic obstruction compared to other hazards that come to mind (puddles, falling objects, etc.). Every time a pallet–full or empty–is brought onto the sales floor, it raises multiple safety risks, including: 

Fall and Trip Hazards

Perhaps the biggest risk associated with pallets is their potential to cause severe trips and falls. As mentioned above, pallets are nearly 4 feet by 4 feet, and so they clog both aisles and open areas. Empty pallets are especially dangerous, as their low profile can make them difficult to spot right away unless you’re looking directly at the floor. 

Furthermore, their weight and construction make it difficult to move them without a jack, so if a customer trips on one it will probably stay in place and cause more damage than a lighter object would. 

Obstructed Views When Loaded

When pallets are loaded with goods, they can easily obstruct views for both workers and customers, which only increases accident risk. This can manifest in multiple ways– if an employee is transporting a full pallet, they will inevitably have blind spots on at least two sides, so nearby customers can easily be hit or rolled up on. 

Additionally, when stores have a lot of products to stock, they will sometimes place full pallets around the store to make it easier for workers to get goods on the shelf. If a pallet is placed in an especially inconvenient location, such as the corner of an aisle, it may cause collisions. 

Damage Risks 

Lastly, both full and empty pallets can do a lot of damage on the sales floor. Sometimes pallets are not in good condition or have been damaged in transport so that they splinter or collapse when moved. Falling goods can obviously cause a lot of harm to nearby employees and customers. In addition, employees utilize special pallet jacks to move them, and if they are lowered onto an uneven surface it can cause them to splinter or fall over. 

Suing for Pallet Injuries Under Premises Liability 

If you are injured on another’s property due to their negligence, that is known as a premises liability claim. All premises liability claimants must prove certain criteria or elements, including:

  1. There must have been a hazardous condition on the premises.
  2. The owner must have known of this hazard and neglected it or should have known.
  3. The hazard in question must have been the cause of your injuries. 

These cases can be very complicated, but if we apply the criteria through the lense of a pallet accident, it’s actually quite simple. For starters, a loaded or empty pallet is easily a hazardous condition, for the reasons outlined above. If you’ve been hit by one or it otherwise caused an accident, then it probably won’t be hard to argue that it caused your injuries. The major question, then, is whether or not the owner acted negligently. 

In premises liability cases, property owners have defenses too. Specifically, the hazard must be open and obvious enough to elicit fault and they must have adequate time to respond and remedy it before being considered negligent. If the pallet was tucked away in the furthest corner of the store and there were cones and warnings posted, it probably would not be considered open and obvious in terms of danger. Additionally, the question of “adequate response time” with regards to pallets can be tricky. Some may argue that all pallets pose a risk and therefore no response time should be given, whereas others will argue that the criteria should not change. In other words, if an employee places a pallet on the floor and you fall on it immediately, there will likely be spirited debate as to whether the store was owed an opportunity to remedy the situation.

Contact Pallet Injury Attorneys Today 

If you’ve been injured by a pallet or an accident that was caused by a pallet in a store, it is crucial to talk with trusted pallet injury attorneys as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to protect your rights, so give Van Law Firm a call right away. We will do everything we can to recover the compensation you deserve, and with a verified 5-star rating across all sites, our legacy is only growing. Call our office nearest you today.