Improperly Stacked Merchandise

The big-box revolution began in the 1960s when the very first Wal-Mart and Kmart stores determined it was cheaper and more efficient to warehouse as much merchandise as possible onsite rather than in offsite warehouses or backroom storage areas. But where would all the merchandise go? The answer was up, so that now when we go to Wal-Mart, Kmart, Home Depot, Costco, Toys “R” Us, and other retailers, we hardly notice the boxes upon boxes of merchandise towering above our heads—until they fall.

Thousands of people have been injured (some even killed) by improperly stacked merchandise in retail stores. Yet, businesses continue to use the high-stack method to keep merchandise in one spot, and avoid moving items from one location to another. Clearly, businesses do not have license to sacrifice consumer safety for profit and efficiency, which means people injured as the result of improperly stacked merchandise have the right to compensation.

Common Factors in Improperly Stacked Merchandise Cases

Several factors can cause or contribute to improperly stacked merchandise-related injuries. These factors may work alone or together to bring about an accident.

High stacking – One of the hallmarks of retail warehouses is high-stacked merchandise, defined by safety experts as the storage of merchandise on the sales floor above eye level. In many big-box stores, merchandise, ranging from appliances to hot water heaters, is stacked on shelves up to 15 feet or more above the sales floor. A sales clerk or customer must stretch, use a ladder or step stool, or climb on shelves to reach merchandise.

Improper or Inadequate Training – Too often, store employees aren’t properly trained in stacking techniques or in preventing and correcting stacking hazards. Many accidents could be avoided if businesses trained employees in procedures for recognizing stacking hazards and making sure merchandise is stacked safely.

Triggering Events – Merchandise stacked in an unstable manner can fall easily due to a “triggering event,” such as moving merchandise from one shelf to another, placing a heavy box on top of lighter boxes, vibrations in and out of the store, and merchandise left hanging over the edge of a shelf.

No Warning of Danger – With the number of merchandise falls that occur in warehouse stores on a regular basis, businesses know there is a risk to consumers when merchandise is improperly stacked. Despite this knowledge, many (if not most) retailers fail to put consumers on notice with high-stack warning signs or block off shopping aisles while merchandise is being stocked.

Contact Us if You Have Been Injured by Improperly Stacked Merchandise

If you or a loved one has been injured by improperly stacked merchandise while shopping, there are two important things to do. First, understand that the retailer knows that their practice of stacking merchandise will eventually cause injuries. They buy insurance for this and view the danger as a cost of doing business. Second, contact the store injury lawyers at Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced personal injury and premises liability attorneys. Our office can be reached at 404-460-0101 or 888-426-2100.

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