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I was in a pet store when I tripped over a dolly cart in the aisle and am seriously hurt. Can I sue the store?

 

A:

It depends on a few things, such as:

  • the location of the dolly;
  • whether the dolly was clearly visible; and
  • whether the store knew that the dolly was in the aisle.

PA law imposes a duty on business owners/stores to protect their customers from unreasonably dangerous conditions, such as a tripping hazard.

In a pet store, all of the products are placed on the shelves; the store expects customers to walk up and down the aisles to search for the products they want to buy.  When customers are walking in an aisle, they are looking at the shelves searching for a product.  Therefore, it is important for the pet store to keep its aisles free from unreasonably dangerous tripping and/or slipping hazards.  A dolly in the aisle may be considered a dangerous tripping hazard.

Related: PA Trip & Fall Accidents In Retail Stores Due To Dolly Carts - By A PA Personal Injury Lawyer

Location & Visibility Of The Dolly

We need to know the exact location of the dolly.  Was it near the end of an aisle and only part of it was in the aisle?  In addition, was the dolly clearly visible?  If the dolly did not have any boxes on it, it may be difficult to see it because the base of the dolly is close to the ground.  A customer looking at a shelf at eye level would not be able to see the dolly.  Further, if the dolly was near the end of the aisle and only the base of the dolly was sticking out, it may be even more difficult to see it because half of it is hidden.  Therefore, the dolly is a dangerous tripping condition because a customer cannot see it when they are looking for something on the shelf. 

Did The Store Know That The Dolly Was In The Aisle?

Another factor we need to know is whether the store knew that an empty dolly was in the aisle, and for how long.  A dangerous tripping hazard alone does not prove that the store is liable.  We must also prove that the store had notice of the dangerous condition.  If the store knew about it or should have known about it, then the store may be liable for your injuries.

Also see: Is Proving Notice Necessary To Win A Pennsylvania Trip And Fall Accident Case?

For example, if hours before your accident, an employee was using the dolly to stock the shelf with merchandise, but didn’t put the dolly back in the backroom pursuant to store policy when he was done, then the store may be liable because the employee had actual notice.   Because the employee created the dangerous condition by leaving the dolly in the aisle, he had actual notice.

Typically, many retail stores have a standard policy to put a dolly/cart back in the stock room after employees are done using it.  Therefore, obtaining the store policy regarding stocking merchandise and the use of a cart will be important in establishing the store’s liability.

The details of your trip and fall accident are important and needed in order to properly assess your case.  Feel free to call my office to talk about your accident.  We can also schedule a FREE consultation.  877.944.8396


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