It's been said there are two kinds of people in America — those who can't wait to head out as soon as possible after Thanksgiving dinner for some serious retail therapy, and those who shudder at the mere mention of the idea.
If you are one of the millions of bargain hunters who braves hazardous weather conditions, surly fellow shoppers, long, interminable lines and potentially lethal Black Friday store conditions to snap up some deeply discounted holiday swag, you may want to give this blog entry a pass.
But there's no denying those brave souls do risk life and limb to save their dollars, as evidenced by the website Black Friday Death Count, that has been tracking and recording the deaths and injuries to shoppers, retail workers and innocent bystanders since 2006. Spoiler Alert: They're up to seven deaths and 98 injuries going into 2016.
Considering those statistics, and the high level of madness that accompanies these shopping frenzies, what exactly is the level of liability of the retailer for those who get hurt or killed on the store premises?
Black Friday shoppers, and indeed, shoppers on any days of the year, are considered to be "invitees." They are on the premises for purposes benefiting or connected to the retailer. Invitees are owed the highest duties of care by the property owners to be warned of onsite dangers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also recognizes the inherent dangers that are present in some retail outlets on Black Friday. To combat the deaths and injuries that have resulted, the agency published guidelines for safer crowd management for store owners. They advise providing crowd control measures that are sufficient to manage the throngs, as well as having adequate security forces on hand.
Because the stores are actually creating these increased safety risks for which they derive enormous economic benefits, they have the duty to protect their customers from unsafe, known conditions that are not obvious to them.
If they fail to do so on Black Friday and you get injured, your options include filing a claim for damages for the injuries you suffered as a result.
Source: CNN, "Black Friday's liability risk for stores," Danny Cevallos, accessed Nov. 18, 2016