Philadelphia Store Accident Q&A: Store shelf collapse accident


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Question: I was injured at a store in Philadelphia when a shelf collapsed above me. Do I have a case?

Answer: It depends on how the accident happened and whether there is sufficient evidence of negligence or fault. The single most important factor in a store accident case is proving that the store either 1. created the dangerous condition or 2. had fair notice of the condition.

More: Store Accidents in Philadelphia, Merchandise, Shelf & Display Accidents

In shelf collapse or merchandise accidents, stores may be liable for an injured customer’s injuries and financial losses if there is evidence that the store created the dangerous condition. An example of a store creating a dangerous condition is over-stocking shelves beyond their maximum weight capacity. Alternatively, a store may be liable for stocking merchandise negligently, i.e., failing to use due care when stocking top shelves with heavy merchandise.

A store may also be liable for having had fair notice of a dangerous condition at some time prior to the accident at issue. Fair notice can be either actual notice or constructive notice. Evidence of actual notice would be a prior incident report of the same problem. Evidence of constructive notice is not as concrete and involves circumstantial evidence which tends to show that the store should have known about the problem. An example of constructive notice involves a situation where a store fails to notice that a particular shelf is leaning and one day, the shelf finally gives way and falls onto a customer.

More: I tripped in a store. Can I ask the store to pay for my medical bills?

In store shelf collapse accident lawsuits in Pennsylvania, the burden is on the injured customer (plaintiff) to prove that the store (defendant) was negligent. This usually requires an exhaustive investigation of the following:

  • store policies and procedures,
  • videotape footage, if any,
  • shelving unit instructions/warnings,
  • the type of merchandise stocked on the shelf, and
  • the weight of merchandise stocked on the shelf.

One of the key factors in a successful store accident lawsuit is proving negligence and obtaining evidence as soon as possible after the accident. Having pictures taken of the accident scene at or near the time of the accident often helps to prove negligence.

If you were injured in a store shelf collapse accident in Philadelphia, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering damages.  The amount of financial compensation depends on the seriousness of the injuries and extent of the financial losses.

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