Is a Store Liable for a Customer Injury?


Laura Schaefer

If you’ve been hurt in a store, you may be facing high medical bills as a result of your injury. Fortunately, you may qualify for damages if your accident occurred due to the negligence of the store owner. If you’re wondering whether a store is liable for a customer injury, know that stores have a duty of care to keep their patrons safe.

Stores have a legal duty to provide a safe environment for customers. Their legal duty involves:

  • Maintaining the facility to prevent accidents
  • Notifying customers through proper signage if a hazard is in their store
  • Blocking off dangerous areas to prevent customer access

If they’re not organizing their store or cleaning spills before a slip and fall occurs, you may have grounds to sue. Contact a personal injury attorney and tell them about your case to know your odds of success with your claim.

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When is a Store Liable for a Customer Injury?

A store is liable if your injury was the result of negligence – a breach of their “duty of care.” To figure out if retail store negligence was to blame for your accident, ask the following question:

“Could store managers have done something within reason to prevent the accident from happening?”

If the answer is “yes,” then the store is likely liable for your injury.

Business owners know they can be responsible for injuries within their property, so they purchase general liability insurance to protect themselves. Large corporations like Target and Walmart pay millions of dollars to insure themselves against lawsuits like yours. Don’t worry about hurting a retail store’s bottom-line when filing your claim.

State laws are designed to ensure property owners regularly inspect their premises for any unsafe conditions. If they don’t, filing a personal injury lawsuit may change how they operate, protecting others in the future.

Businesses have a duty to warn people if there are hazards in their store that might cause a fall or other type of injury. That is why it’s common to see wet floor signs warning people of potential harm; it’s to avoid a lawsuit.

IMPORTANT: Start by signing up for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to see if you have a valid case under liability law.

Know that a store’s liability can extend further than to aisles and checkout lanes. You may have a case if you were hurt due to negligence in the following places:

  • Restrooms
  • Parking lots used by store customers
  • Dressing rooms
  • Walkways

If these facilities are handled by a 3rd-party, they may be liable for the damages you suffered as well. Contact an attorney to make sure each party is accounted for.

Common Causes of Injuries in a Store

Anything can happen if store owners fail to maintain their facilities. Major retailers like Walmart face numerous premises liability lawsuits, each more unique than the last. Talking to an attorney will go into your specific case, but here are the most common types of injuries you may face in a store.

Slip and Falls

Falls account for over 8 million ER visits every year and are the leading cause of visits in the US (21.3%). Slips and falls account for over 1 million of those visits. Falls happen when floors are wet and unmarked or when stores allow obstructions or hazards in the aisles to persist.

Improperly Stocked Merchandise

Stacks or crates of merchandise, boxes or other items left in aisles can create a negligent hazard to customers. Negligent employees or customers may incorrectly rearrange merchandise, causing it to fall on unsuspecting customers. The shelves may be built incorrectly or are incapable of handling the weight they’re carrying.

Damaged Property

If any unsafe conditions exist within their store or parking lot, the owner must inform visitors of those dangerous conditions. If they fail to do so, that constitutes negligence. An example of this would be an escalator that isn’t working or damaged flooring protruding through the cracks.

What to Do When Injured in a Store

When you’ve been injured in a store, get medical attention as soon as possible. Don’t sign anything at the store, or from the store’s insurance company. Instead, reach out to a personal injury attorney first. To prepare for your consultation ahead of time, consider the following questions:

  1. What were the circumstances of your injury? When, where, and how did your injury occur? Was something wrong with the floor or was something damaged in the store? Who saw the accident? This includes any witnesses of the actual accident and police or EMTs who may have arrived on the scene.
  2. Did you go to the hospital or urgent care facility? What did the doctors or nurses say about your injury? What is your expected recovery timeline? Do you have records, bills, and contact information for any healthcare providers who treated you?
  3. How has the injury affected your life? Have you missed days or weeks at your place of employment? Did you have to skip a vacation or hire someone to do household tasks or provide childcare? You may qualify for lost wages as a result. Are you in pain?

When is a Store NOT Liable for Customer Injuries?

A retail store is not liable for every incident. Were dangerous conditions in the store (such as poorly stocked merchandise or a wet floor) to blame for your injury? If not, the store might not be liable. Customers are expected to act reasonably when it comes to paying attention to their own safety while on store property.

Could the store managers have done something within reason to improve conditions or post signage pointing out potential dangers? If not, the store might not be liable. In cases where your injury is the result of your own behavior or a pre-existing medical condition, the store may not be liable for your customer injury.

Hold the Store Responsible With a Personal Injury Attorney

It will cost you nothing to work with a personal injury attorney unless they win a settlement for you. Not only can a personal injury lawyer help you figure out if you have a case due to your retail store injury, they work on contingency. They don’t get any payment unless you win and collect damages.

Know that every claim has a deadline to file called the statute of limitations. Cases may have exceptions that extend your time to file, but if you don’t file within this timeline, your case may get barred from court.

If you are ready to discuss your customer injury situation with a personal injury lawyer who specializes in premises liability, click here to get connected to a professional in our network today. You deserve expert help!

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author ofThe Teashop Girls,The Secret Ingredient, andLittler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at and