Improperly Stacked And Shelved Items That Fall From Above
When we think of accidents that happen in stores and on people’s properties, we usually look down. Is there something slippery on the floor? Mauve an object, or something sticking out, that we could fall on? But you may not have thought about dangers that come from the opposite direction—from above your own head.
How Stuff Falls From Above
In a typical store, there is shelving, and that shelving is often above our heads, and stacked with merchandise. Sometimes, that merchandise is not as secure as it should be.
This could be from being improperly stacked by store employees—after all, in most stores, items out of customer reach are exclusively controlled by those store employees. But there are also times when customers can get their hands on items on higher shelves, and when they rummage through the merchandise, they may leave it in a state where it is teetering on the brink of collapse.
Why So Dangerous?
It may be funny to think of a bunch of objects falling from above onto someone’s head, but the reality is that it is extraordinarily dangerous.
One reason it’s so dangerous is an obvious reason—it is our head, which naturally leads to injuries to the skull and possibly, to traumatic brain injury. Items that fall from above us also can do serious damage to our necks, as the impact on the head can cause the head to be thrust downward, putting stress, and injury, onto the cervical spine.
The other reason why items falling from above is so dangerous, is that we aren’t prepared for them. Yes, falls are extraordinarily dangerous—but at least with a fall, we have that split second to brace our bodies, or brace our fall, mitigating the impact of the fall.
But from above, we are caught completely off guard; our bodies can’t brace, move, or soften the blow, because we never see it coming.
Remember that it doesn’t have to be the object that falls on us, that causes us the injury. Imagine, for example, a very small or light object, say, an empty cardboard box, were to fall on your head. The box itself may do no damage—but the shock and surprise of something falling on your head, could cause you to fall, injuring yourself.
Who is Liable?
Stores are liable for the way that their shelving is stacked. A store is charged with constructive (if not actual) knowledge that shelves were stacked in a dangerous way. Because in most cases, the shelves are solely accessed by store employees, the store may even have actual knowledge that something was stacked haphazardly.
There are ways to properly (and improperly) stack shelves, and there are experts in the field of merchandising and even physics who can, if needed, be called to testify as to what a store did right and wrong when an object falls on someone’s head.