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Injury Prevention: Defective Products and Holiday Crowds

We’ve written recently about some of the increased injury risks that come with the year-end holidays.

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Among the most overlooked are holiday shopping risks and the dangers of defective products. The holidays are a time of large crowds, overstocked stores and overflowing parking lots. We also bring more new products into the home during the holidays than at any other time of the year.

Holiday Defective Product Risks 

Many of those products are marketed to children. And hundreds are recalled each year after serious or fatal injuries determine them to be dangerous or defective. In such cases, defendants may include anyone in the product manufacturing or marketing process, including retail stores, wholesalers and manufacturers. Types of liability in these cases include defects in labeling or marketing, manufacturing defect or design defect.

Since a rash of high-profile import toys containing lead and other dangers a decade ago, the number of dangerous toy products confiscated at U.S. ports has plummeted from 172 in 2008 to just 18 so far this year, though there is serious question about whether current enforcement is adequate.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission urges parents to check age labels and choose age-appropriate toys. Certain toys, like scooters, bicycles or other riding toys, should always be purchased and gifted with the appropriate safety gear. Choking hazards are another common risk, particularly for children younger than age 3. Small parts, balls and balloons, in particular, should always be used age appropriately and with supervision.

Holiday Shopping Risks 

Few consumers stop to consider the risks they face before ever purchasing a product to bring into the home.

Black Friday signals the official start of the holiday shopping season and has always been the most dangerous day of the year on retail property, with high-profile brawls and trampling incidents seemingly being reported annually. New and seasonal employees are at particularly high risk, but so too are customers, from the parking lot to the overstocked and overcrowded aisles.

Parking lot accidents: Children and the elderly are most at risk. Talk to your children about the risk of backing vehicles and hold their hands when in crowded parking lots. In some cases, a business or property owner may be liable for an accident, in addition to an at-fault driver. Motorists are encouraged to pay particular attention in parking lots, where far too many instead let their guard down.

Fall injuries: Falls are the single biggest injury risk on commercial property, for employees as well as customers and guests. Our injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Naples see a significant number of these cases, which frequently result in broken bones and other very serious and debilitating injuries. We have written previously about fall liability in Florida. Changes to Florida law make gathering early evidence and documentation critical in these cases. Under F.S. 768.0755, when plaintiffs are injured in Florida slip-and-fall accidents caused by transitory foreign substances on a walking surface, plaintiffs must prove defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazardous condition and failed to address it. Constructive knowledge means a condition existed for enough time to be discovered under ordinary care, or occurred with a regularity that was foreseeable.

Overstocked stores: A surprising number of injuries occur to employees or customers who are either injured by a falling product or are injured while trying to retrieve a product from an overhead location. Beware of overstocked shelves, large displays and other sources of toppling merchandise. And always ask for assistance when attempting to retrieve something from overhead storage.

Assault: We don’t like to think about predatory behavior during what should be a generous and charitable time of the year. But the fact remains, the holidays bring increased risks of assault, theft and burglary. Shoppers should park in populated and well-lit areas and avoid shopping along whenever possible, particularly after dark. Homeowners should also lock their doors, secure valuables and take other precautions as household burglaries also peak during this time of year.

When it comes to holiday risks, we believe an ounce of prevention is worth at least a pound of cure. Recognizing and mitigating the risks can make the holiday season better for everyone.

If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.