Shopping Carts: Danger in the Open

When most people think of shopping carts, they usually don’t associate them with accidents or serious injury. They range from the mini SUV found out the local hardware store to cute plastic race car designs to help keep the little ones entertained while we are browsing the aisles with clipped coupons.

According to a recent study, 24,000 kids are injured in shopping carts every year, and can become especially dangerous during the busiest shopping hours — like after 5 pm — or peak shopping days — like Black Friday.

If you are injured by a shopping cart in or outside of a store, do you have a legal remedy? Can you even sue and who?

Suits Against Shoppers or Employees

Injures with shopping carts are no laughing matter, and can occur in numerous ways. But most injury lawsuits are based on one legal theory; negligence liability, meaning that someone else’s negligence caused your injury. While it may seem clear to you that another shopper’s or an employee’s negligence with a shopping cart led to your injury, proving it to a jury can be challenging. There are four key elements to a basic negligence claim:

  • Duty: The shopper or employee owed you a legal duty to use reasonable care with a shopping cart under the circumstances
  • Breach: The shopper or employee breached that legal duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way with the shopping cart
  • Causation: It was this breach that actually caused your injuries
  • Damages: Your injury is real and compensable

In order to be compensated for your injuries, you will need to be able to prove all four elements, as well as provide an accurate estimate of the amount of cost of your injuries.

Suits Against Stores

Shopping cart injuries could also be the store’s fault. Under this theory there are three main ways you can sue the stores when you are injured:

  • Premises liability: The store owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition on the property that led to your injury
  • Negligent training/supervision: The employer failed to train the employees properly in the shopping cart safety
  • Vicarious liability: A store employee was negligent in the scope of their employment, and the store can be held liable for his or her actions or failure to act

These legal theories are complex and may overlap in dealing with your shopping cart injury case, but an experienced personal injury attorney can explain how each can help your case.

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