To the most fanatic shopper, Black Friday (and in some cases, Gray Thursday) is like the Super Bowl of shopping dates. There are likely weeks of planning and training, as well as time taken out to stake a spot for the most coveted of deals. For what is probably a thrill to get a fabulous deal may also come with substantial danger. After all, there is a story every year about someone getting injured in a Black Friday sale.
So when a patron is injured in these situations, can the retailer be held liable? Of course, it depends.
As a matter of law, retailers have a duty to keep patrons safe from hazards while shopping on the retailer’s premises. Essentially, they have to use reasonable care in keeping customers from being injured by hazards they knew about or should have known about. Common hazards include spills, broken glass and flooring that has become unstable.
On Black Friday, a known hazard is the crush of people themselves. As we mentioned earlier, customers have been injured in a stampede of humanity in a rush to secure deals. If a customer is injured in this scenario, he or she could bring a lawsuit and seek compensation for their injuries, as the retailer likely failed to use reasonable care to prevent such an accident from happening. It could be argued that barricades could have been used and extra security could have been brought in to prevent stampedes.
These are questions that will be answered, among others, to determine liability.