In the 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger holiday film “Jingle All The Way” there is a scene in the beginning of the movie that tackles just how dangerous holiday shopping can be. Hundreds of shoppers are lined up peacefully for a chance to grab the season’s hottest toy, the beloved Turbo Man doll, and then one person mobs a store employee which inevitably causes chaos to ensue.
Although this movie is meant for comedic purposes, this very scene plays out in stores across the country every holiday season starting with the 4th Friday in November aka Black Friday. Countless videos hit the internet every year of shoppers engaging in dangerous activities while out trying to grab the hottest deals. Injuries during holiday shopping are fairly common and although stores have gotten better at installing safety protocols to avoid injuries, they still happen more often than they should. The federal government has even intervened and laid out guidelines for how big retailers should handle large crowds.
Here are a few of the most common causes of injuries seen during the holiday shopping season and what you should do if you are on the wrong end of one of these 5 scenarios.
Scenario 1: You’ve woken everyone up at 4am to load in the car to head to Walmart and grab the tv you’ve been eyeing. You circle the parking lot multiple times and find the perfect spot. You begin pulling in and boom another car immediately pulls in front of you and clips your front bumper…
Overzealous drivers tend to end up in minor accidents while scoping out the perfect parking spot and not paying attention to their surroundings. If you are in an accident and your vehicle is hit by another driver, make sure you stay calm to avoid further conflict, call the police to make a report, exchange information with the other driver and notify your insurance company. Most importantly take LOTS of pictures. Memories are fuzzy when everyone is out shopping at 5am, it’s best to have visible proof of your damages.
Scenario 2: You’ve avoided chaos in the parking lot and made it to the store front. Hundreds of people are waiting in line to get in when doors open up right at 6am. The store employees finally open the door, and everyone takes off running in the same direction. At this point you get stuck in the crowd and feel your feet leave the ground as hundreds of other people push to get in…
We’ve written about crowd surges in relation to concerts in one of our previous blogs, but did you know the second most common type of injuries during the holiday shopping season, specifically Black Friday, result from stampedes? We’ve all seen videos of shoppers swarming the store front of a Best Buy to grab gaming systems and tvs on sale only to immediately collapse and fall on top of each other the moment the doors open. It only takes force from a handful of people to cause the amount of pressure needed to crush internal organs or break a bone. The best way to avoid this is to stay on your feet and try to move as quickly as you can parallel to the direct of the crowd. If you happen to fall and can’t get up immediately curl up in to a ball, cover your head and turn on to your side to protect your back and spine until the crowd moves. You really want to remember that protecting your back or spine is the most important thing in this case. As soon as the crowd is clear, seek medical attention.
Slip and Falls
Scenario 3: You’re inside the store. You’ve managed to avoid the crowd surge at the front door by waiting a few minutes after the doors opened. You get about ten steps in the building and go to grab your shopping cart, low and behold you slip on a wet floor. There’s no sign marking the area, and its not cold or snowy out in your region of the U.S. Perhaps another customer spilled their morning coffee on the floor, or a sleepy employee mopped but forgot to put up a sign…
Whatever the cause may be, these injuries are common in stores and need to be addressed as soon as they occur. If you happen to slip and fall, notify the store manager as soon as possible and seek medical attention if necessary. Have a family member or someone around you take pictures of where you fell and the conditions of that part of the store.
Scenario 4: You’re in the store, you’ve managed to avoid a large wet spot on the floor near the entry. You’re headed to grab a small waffle iron that’s on sale. You find your item but as you go to grab it, several other boxes of that item come crashing down on top of your head and shoulders hitting you like a ton of bricks…
When preparing for the busy shopping day, Stores tend to stack the deals high to the ceiling in order to accommodate more shoppers. There is a huge risk of injury with the rush of people grabbing the product that they want. If you end up being hit by falling items in a store whether it’s because of another customer or a faulty design in a store display of sale items, its best to seek medical attention immediately and report it to a store employee. Most larger stores have cameras on almost every aisle. The surveillance footage not only could show the incident, but It can also be future evidence as to the how and why what happened, so its best to report your accident immediately. Injuries to the upper torso tend to have symptoms that aren’t always seen immediately and may present themselves a few days after the initial accident occurred.
Scenario 5: You’ve made it into the store safely. You’ve managed to avoid every dangerous scenario that one could imagine. You are determined to grab that special Lego set your nephew wants. You get to the toy section and there’s only one left on the shelf. As soon as you reach for it another hand reaches out at that the exact same time as you. You politely point out that you were here first, but that other shopper isn’t willingly giving up this item and plans on getting it by any means necessary…
Most confrontations usually end with a few not so nice words, but a handful of them do turn physical. The last and most common type of holiday shopping injuries come from physical altercations in stores or in the parking lots. If another shopper feels like their chances of getting a deal are now being taken away, their happy holiday shopping mood can quickly turn to anger or rage.
In the past decade, we’ve seen rage go to extreme levels such as when at least a dozen California shoppers had to seek medical attention after a woman began pepper spraying others to gain access to deals; an Alabama man being hospitalized for a shattered hip after fighting with another store patron of a toy car; two men coming to serious blows when one of the men responded rudely to being bumped by an elderly shoppers cart; and most recently a video that made the rounds on tiktok in 2022 of two Texas Walmart shoppers fighting over the last television available.
For many shoppers in the US, the holiday shopping season kicks off with Black Friday as a day off work to head to the stores in the early hours of the morning and search for the best deals. But for a portion of these shoppers the yearly celebration of retail’s biggest day can be dangerous. If you are seriously injured during this holiday season by another shopper, our advice is to try to stay calm. Notify store management if there is a problem and call the police. Seek medical attention as soon as possible and as always take pictures of any injuries or damage. While stores are not generally liable for the conduct of their customers, they may be held responsible if they fail to have adequate security available during the busy season. If you or a loved one has been injured and are in need of representation do not hesitate to contact our office. For a free consultation, call 800-444-1525 or visit www.katzfriedman.com and use the “Contact Us” form on our homepage.