As a Lowes hardware accident attorney in California, I know that Lowes Companies, Inc. is big business in the Golden State. The hardware, appliance and home improvement store operator has 1,140 stores in the United States, 40 stores in Canada and another 10 in Mexico. The company has plans to open another 150 stores in Australia under a different name. Lowes is number 50 on the Fortune 500 list, and only Home Depot sells more hardware, appliance and home improvement products than Lowes.
Lowes operates 111 stores in California. Only Texas and Florida have more. As a majority shareholder, the company also operates more than 70 neighborhood hardware and backyard stores known as Orchard Supply Hardware that it acquired in 2013. Nearly all of those stores are in California too.
Whether you own a single hardware and home improvement store in a small town or over 1,000 of them that are scattered across the country, it’s nearly inevitable that accidents are going to happen. These stores are packed with merchandise and machinery, and the store owners bear certain risks for which they can be held responsible. Personal injury attorneys are instrumental in keeping hardware and home improvement store owners alert and attentive to preventing accidents and compelling them to pay when accidents and injuries indeed do occur.
Common retail accident claims
Although other types of personal injury claims might arise from conditions on or about the property of a retailer like Lowes, common claims consist of:
- Falling merchandise
- Slip-and-falls and trip-and-falls
- Injuries from defective products
There are no statutes or regulations governing how Lowes might stack and display merchandise. It might be stacked up to 15 feet high, and it’s usually left unsecured without any devices that might restrain it from falling onto customers. Merchandise can be caused to fall by:
- Generally unstable stacking
- Pushing on one aisle stack and causing merchandise to fall from another aisle stack
- Stacking heavy merchandise on top of lighter merchandise
- Stacking large boxes on top of small boxes
When a boxes fall from a height of 10 or 15 feet, it’s likely that there’s no warning whatsoever. Common injuries from falling merchandise include:
- Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
- Serious neck injuries
- Fractured facial bones
- Leg and foot fractures
- Facial lacerations
Falling merchandise injuries are wholly and completely preventable. Store owners simply need to stack and display merchandise in such a way as it doesn’t fall onto customers from high above.
Slip and falls and trip and falls
Most slip and fall accidents are caused when a customer slips on a liquid or otherwise slippery substance inside of the Lowes store. Trip and falls are usually caused by merchandise or other obstructions in aisles or uneven surfaces. In a slip and fall, the victim ordinarily falls backward. In a trip and fall, they ordinarily trip forward. In either case, the victim wasn’t prepared for the fall. Very serious injuries can result.
The law of negligence
Whether it’s falling merchandise or a falling person, the law of negligence governs these types of cases. To prove negligence in a store injury case, the person claiming injury must prove the following elements.
- That a duty was owed to prevent or warn him or her of possible injury
- That the duty to prevent or warn was breached
- That the breach of the duty caused the customer’s injury
- That the customer suffered legally recognized damages
Failure to prove any single element will cause the negligence case to fail in its entirety.
Injuries from defective products
Under product liability law, the retailer who sells a dangerously defective product can be held strictly liable for the injury or death of a user of that product. The injuries or deaths are ordinarily alleged to have resulted from:
- A design defect
- A manufacturing defect
- A failure to warn of the product’s inherent danger
As big as Lowes is, accidents either happen on their property or thorough products that they sell just about every day. If you or somebody close to you has been hurt inside of a Lowe’s store or by a product that Lowes sells, contact a California personal injury lawyer who is familiar with how the company operates. Customers injured by the negligence of Lowes deserve fair and just compensation.