Large retailers like Walmart go through a lot of merchandise in a day, and stores often have to restock and perform other routine tasks while customers are still in the building, especially when stores are open to customers 24 hours a day. As Walmart employees move pallets and operate equipment in the aisles, the retailer has a legal responsibility make sure that it is done in a way that won’t cause harm to customers. However, accidents and oversights happen even when stores have safety standards in place—and when those accidents happen because the store “messed up,” the victims who get hurt can hold Walmart responsible.
How Merchandise and Equipment Become a Potential Danger to Walmart Shoppers
Walmart and its employees are responsible for the safe operation of forklifts and adherence to standard safety guidelines for moving merchandise, but people are still sometimes injured by:
- Accidents with forklifts, floor cleaners, and other equipment. If employees aren’t paying attention, or if something goes wrong during operation, customers can be hurt by the forklifts and other equipment used to move and place merchandise in the store. Customers may be hurt by the equipment itself or by merchandise carried on the equipment.
- Falling merchandise. As employees move full pallets around the store or place products on high shelves, shoppers can be hurt by items falling from the forklift, falling from pallets, or sitting precariously.
- Unattended pallets and equipment. Pallets that are left in aisles without warning, ladders left leaning against shelving, and unsupervised forklifts or dollies can all create hazards for customers, especially when customers don’t expect to run into obstacles.
Retailers Should Take Reasonable Precautions When Moving Merchandise and Operating Equipment
Stores can take action to keep the premises reasonably safe for customers while merchandise is moved and stocked, and what it really boils down to in most cases is paying attention to:
- Store premises. There are a lot of ways that stores take precautions when moving or storing merchandise, which might include adding netting on pallets and shelving, cordoning off aisles where forklifts and floor cleaners are operating, and maintaining regular inspections for potential problems.
- Store employees. Walmart should make sure that its merchandising employees and forklift operators are appropriately screened, trained, and supervised to ensure customer safety while the store is restocked.
When Walmart stores ignore these important steps and safety precautions, customers can be seriously hurt—or even killed—during an ordinary shopping trip. However, the law protects people who are hurt in situations caused by store or employee negligence.
Getting Help After You’ve Been Hurt at a Walmart Store
You don’t necessarily have a claim to compensation just because you have been hurt while shopping at or visiting a Walmart store, but the company is known to fight even legitimate claims of injury due to mistakes, recklessness, and other forms of negligence. If you have any questions about your rights, it is wise to seek experienced legal help as soon as possible. It’s not unusual for victims to accidentally wreck their claims or give up their rights before they understand their legal options, but you can take a step to avoid making the same mistakes by reaching out to our Chicago legal team today with your concerns.