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Were you injured doing your holiday shopping?

Every year, American consumers file thousands of claims for shopping-related injuries like neck and back injuries from slip and falls inside stores.

Most of us head out on shopping expeditions without ever considering that a merchant might fail to maintain his or her premises in a safe manner free of hazards. Yet, all it takes is lax enforcement of basic safety policies for customers, vendors and staff to suffer painful injuries.

Many shopping injuries are minor, like twisted ankles or skinned knees, but it's possible to suffer far more serious injuries like fractures, head traumas, neck and spine injuries or even death. There is a definite uptick in the rate of injuries during the heaviest shopping seasons —the weeks between Black Friday and Christmas.

Some common shopping-related accidents include:

-- Injuries to the upper body from falling merchandise, out-of-reach goods and retail displays.

-- Crushing injuries from overcrowding, such as when fellow shoppers trample those that fall rushing to snatch up Black Friday deals.

-- Slip and falls due to poor lighting, ripped carpet, uneven flooring, wet floors and escalator malfunctions.

-- Injuries from shopping carts that tip over.

-- Injuries in parking lots from cracked pavement, poor design or the stores' failure to shovel snow and ice out of the way.

Shoppers who get hurt on commercial properties like malls or shopping centers have the right to make a claim for damages under the state laws regarding negligence. Premises liability laws require commercial property owners to exercise reasonable care that the premises are safe from hazards and hidden dangers that can cause injuries.

Ways that merchants can prevent injuries to their customers include:

-- Maintaining adequate security.

-- Quickly cleaning up spills.

-- Removing fallen objects.

-- Replacing burned-out light bulbs.

-- Repairing loose railings and shaky stairs.

If your holiday shopping left you with injuries and the merchant is reluctant to honor your damage claim, filing a civil suit is your next option.

Source: Findlaw, "Shopping Injuries Overview," accessed Dec. 24, 2015

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