Who Is Liable for a Workplace Injury on Black Friday?

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You expect to go to work, be safe, and return home at the end of the day. Many people assume that certain jobs have more hazards than others, construction leading that list. Although you are correct to make that assumption, it does not mean that you will avoid injury in other jobs, such as retail.

Retail positions do have dangers associated with them. Whether you are stocking shelves and fall off a ladder or you are knocked over by rushing customers on Black Friday, you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Black Friday Risks to Retail Workers

Because so many shoppers are looking to get the best deal, they are eager to get into your store, grab the item, and be on their way. But when they rush, that can cause people to get knocked over and even get into physical altercations.

This leads to many dangers for store employees, who may sustain the following injuries:

  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Broken bones
  • Twisted ankles
  • Sprains and strains
  • Concussion
  • Neck and back injuries

In the worst-case scenario, customers and employees have been trampled as people rush a store to get the hot ticket item. Although tragic, situations such as this are entirely preventable.

Determining Fault

If you have been knocked over and injured by a customer rushing to get a good deal, you might think that you need to bring a personal injury claim against the customer for knocking you over. You may be able to file suit, and it might help you collect additional compensation, especially if your injuries are severe or have caused you extreme emotional distress. However, this discussion will first explore how to get compensation from your employer.

Responsibility of the employer. With few exceptions, every company is required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage. Workers’ Compensation is no-fault insurance coverage, which means that, unless you intentionally injured yourself, you are entitled to benefits if you get injured at work.

Workers’ Compensation benefits cover your:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages

However, that is the limit of coverage. If you have suffered a serious injury that prevents you from working for a long period or, worse yet, prevents you from returning to work in the same capacity as before your injury, you could incur astronomical expenses for your medical care and treatment. This becomes even more challenging for you to deal with because you also have no income stream.

Therefore, filing a Workers’ Compensation claim can be a good place to start. Immediately after you get injured, you need to let your supervisor know what happened. Under your employer’s policy, you may have as little as two weeks to file a formal claim with the insurance company. You need to make sure you follow the steps outlined in the policy, or they may reject your claim.

When you file a Workers’ Compensation claim, you will be dealing with your employer’s insurance carrier. This can present unique challenges. The insurance company does not want to pay your claim, even if it is relatively small. Their goal is to keep as much money in their pocket as possible. Contrary to popular belief, the insurance company is not looking out for your best interests.

If the insurance company offers to settle your case quickly, make sure you have trusted legal guidance to ensure that the settlement covers all your needs. Too often, victims will accept a quick settlement but realize later that they have more medical bills to pay and end up paying out of pocket.

OSHA regulations. In the wake of a retail employee’s death on Black Friday in 2008, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set forth guidelines for companies to follow during Black Friday and other major sales. These guidelines are intended to keep both customers and workers safe during heightened periods of customer activity in a store.

These guidelines include the following:

  • Employing trained security personnel
  • Using barricades or other crowd control devices at a store entrance
  • Implementing crowd control measures and restricting the number of people allowed in a store at one time
  • Implementing emergency procedures
  • Communicating entrance and exit procedures to employees and customers
  • Ensuring all exit doors are unlocked or open prior to letting customers enter

If a company does not follow these guidelines set forth by OSHA, you could hold your employer liable for additional damages under a personal injury claim. Your employer is required to keep your workplace safe for workers and customers. If you have been injured, that could be evidence of their negligence, which could give rise to you bringing a personal injury claim for damages and attempting to recover additional compensation beyond your Workers’ Compensation benefits.

To prove your employer was negligent, you would need to show the following:

  • Your employer owed you a duty of care to keep your workplace safe from known or reasonably foreseeable dangers.
  • Your employer breached that duty of care.
  • An accident happened because of your employer’s breach.
  • You suffered injuries.

This might seem like a simple process to you because you know what happened. You know your employer did not follow OSHA guidelines or was negligent in some other way. You also know that you suffered injuries as a result and are now dealing with the consequences. However, proving these elements to a legal standard requires evidence. To get that, you may need to have a full investigation into your accident and the steps your employer took, or did not take, leading up to Black Friday to keep customers and workers safe.

To be clear, you cannot get Workers’ Compensation benefits from your employer and also bring a personal injury claim for negligence. Speaking with an experienced workplace injury lawyer can help guide you and determine the best course of action for you to recover maximum compensation.

Customer liability. If you were injured on Black Friday by a customer knocking you over, for example, you may also be able to file a personal injury claim against the individual customer. You can still file a Workers’ Compensation claim against your employer and also seek to collect damages from the customer who injured you. Going this route often provides victims with additional compensation to help them focus on their recovery.

In a personal injury claim, you may be able to recover compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of life enjoyment

Your employer’s Workers’ Compensation policy should cover your lost income and medical expenses. However, when you suffer serious injuries, you often have non-economic damages. These are damages that affect your mental state and overall life enjoyment. Although not easy to determine the precise value because there are no bills like with a medical procedure, you can still attempt to receive compensation for these items as they affect your life.

The additional compensation you may be able to collect in a personal injury claim can help you shoulder the financial loss of being out of work. This can help your physical recovery happen faster because you are no longer worried about how you pay your regular bills, let alone your costly medical expenses. When you can focus all your effort and energy on your health and wellbeing, you can recover faster.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Injured Retail Workers Get the Help They Deserve

Black Friday gives consumers the chance to get excellent holiday deals. Unfortunately, that can lead to rushing and knocking people over, including workers. If you are a store worker who has been injured on Black Friday, you may be able to collect benefits under your employer’s Workers’ Compensation policy. The experienced Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton will help you get the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.

With offices in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.