HEB is no stranger to lawsuits with over three hundred stores across Texas. However, despite hundreds of injury claims, if not more each year, HEB continues to execute unsafe practices in its stores. An O’Hara Law Firm client recently sued HEB for injuries she received when falling over an empty pallet in an aisle. The empty pallet never should have been laying in an aisle during normal business hours when customers are in the store.
It is well known in the retail industry that short objects should not be left on the floor where customers may walk. Many stores prohibit displays that are shorter than thirty inches in height because it is common for people not to see items that are low to the ground when walking in a store. People naturally look up at the products in the aisles and are not looking down at their feet. Pallets are usually six inches or less in height, so they are exceptionally dangerous if left out unattended where customers walk. Some stores rope off aisles when employees unload pallets in order to prevent customers from tripping. Other businesses prohibit the unloading of pallets during normal business hours and only allow the unloading of pallets when the store is closed. At a minimum, businesses should require employees to remove pallets from aisles and walkways immediately after they are unloaded to prevent tripping.
Tripping over pallets is such a common occurrence that some businesses specifically discuss safety procedures with regard to pallets in their training guides and safety policies. HEB should take a lesson from these stores. An employee of HEB unloaded a pallet, and when the pallet was completely empty, she left it in the aisle to begin unloading a second pallet. She should have immediately removed the pallet after it was emptied, or at minimum, put cones around the pallet. An HEB customer approached the pallet and did not see it because she was looking up at the top of the shelf where the product she was considering buying was located. The customer tripped over the pallet and suffered a serious injury requiring surgery.
Grocery stores and many other retail chains place the items they want customers to buy at eye level on shelves. Stores are designed to attract customer attention to the displays and shelves, not the floor. Thus, it is critical to keep walkways clear of boxes, pallets, hoses, merchandise, and other tripping hazards. Of course, instead of accepting responsibility when customers are injured, the company lawyers routinely blame the victim for “not watching where he or she was going.” Lawyers with experience handling trip and fall cases know how to combat defense lawyer tricks such as blaming the victim.
The O’Hara Law Firm has handled many premise liability cases involving unsafe conditions. These include scenarios such as an unsafe bridge without handrails, empty endcaps, exposed bolts sticking out of a floor, a large hole at a car wash, displays with unsafe bases, an empty pallet in a walkway, and others.
If you are injured at a store, report the incident before leaving the store and take pictures of the scene. Do not rely on employees of the store to properly record the dangerous condition that caused your injury. Some unscrupulous employees or managers may even destroy evidence or fabricate new evidence. The O’Hara Law Firm has caught a defendant lying about the condition of the premises and claiming that a warning sign was present when it was not at the time of the fall.
If you have been injured in a trip and fall, you might be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, physical impairment, and other mental anguish. If you have been injured seriously in a fall, contact The O’Hara Law Firm for a free consultation. Patrick O’Hara is a personal injury attorney that handles cases in Harris County and surrounding counties. The O’Hara Law Firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis. Call us at 832-956-1138.