New Jersey has more than its share of malls and other major shopping centers, which means there is a greater likelihood of accidents that can cause injuries. Unfortunately, owners and operators of these large facilities do not always take sufficient safety precautions. What’s more, there are often suppliers, contractors and others on these premises who can contribute to the dangers. When an accident and resulting injury occur, it’s important to know who may be legally responsible.
The following are common types of shopping mall accidents and their causes:
- Slips and falls — Shopping mall floors are often hard surfaces, such as tile or polished concrete. These types of flooring can be slippery, especially when wet. Many shops sell beverages and shoppers may bring their own beverages, leading to spills that create slip-and-fall hazards. Mall operators can be liable for failing to clean up spills promptly and/or for leaving floors wet after cleaning without marking off the area or posting warnings.
- Tripping hazards — Chipped or cracked staircases, uneven walking surfaces and potholes in parking lots can lead to trip-and-fall injuries if they are not cordoned off. Some shop owners create hazards by displaying wares and posting signs well outside the boundaries of their stores, which can impede pedestrian traffic.
- Vehicle accidents — There are many vehicles in and around shopping mall premises. Drivers anxious to find parking might end up hitting another car or a pedestrian. There are also vehicles inside mall buildings, such as golf carts used to transport security and maintenance employees. People with disabilities use electric scooters. Floor sweepers and cleaners might be active when the mall is open. Any vehicle operator who causes a crash due to negligence is liable for victims’ injuries.
- Escalators—Poorly maintained or malfunctioning equipment can cause escalators to suddenly jerk or stop. Also, misuse of an escalator can jam the moving components. Sudden movements can cause people riding on the escalator to fall and get caught in parts of the mechanism. A person falling onto another rider may cause a domino effect, toppling many other riders.
Assessing liability for shopping mall accidents is often complicated due to the multiple parties that may be involved. Mall owners and operators can be held accountable for poor design or maintenance of the premises. Store owners can be liable for their own design and maintenance deficiencies. Merchandise suppliers as well as third-party contractors may be responsible for hazards they create or fail to remediate properly. Injured mall patrons can be found comparatively at fault for accidents. Moreover, lawsuits seeking compensation for injuries are often filed against more than one person or business entity, each with their own insurance companies and defense lawyers.
Seigel Law in Ridgewood is one of the most experienced premises liability law firms in the northern New Jersey area. If you have been injured in a shopping mall or other retail facility, call 201-444-4000 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.