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Stores may be liable for shoppers' injuries

Suppose you are a young mother shopping in the local big-box retail giant with your toddler and preschooler. You're trying to find the perfect Halloween costumes for both of them to wear when they go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood next month.

You've got the two kids corralled in the shopping cart. The youngest is in the seat section, and her older brother is sitting cross-legged in the buggy itself. You hold up two sizes of the same costume, giving a discerning squint to the size properties of each and fail to notice that your son is now standing up and is brushing his hand through the fabric costumes hanging just above his head.

Seconds from disaster

Suddenly, he spies an Optimus Prime Transformers costume — his favorite! — and tries to pull it down into the cart.

Suddenly, the entire display, including the metal rod from which the scores of kids' costumes were suspended, comes crashing down onto the heads and upper bodies of your two small children.

Who's at fault?

It doesn't take much imagination to picture the potentially catastrophic injuries that could result from a real-life and not hypothetical shopping-related accident. The medical bills for two injured children could easily climb north of six figures depending on how badly either one was injured.

Is the store liable for your children's injuries? Here in Kentucky, a state with pure comparative fault liability laws, plaintiffs' own responsibility for their injuries reduces the defendants' liability by an equivalent percentage.

Because the children are minors, as their supervising parent, it is likely that the store will argue that you were remiss for not properly supervising your children while they were under your care and control. It is possible that a judge or jury will agree and subsequently reduce any damage award by the degree of your own liability.

What does that mean for my injured children?

If the store is balking at paying out your claim or only agreeing to pay a portion of the medical costs and other torts arising from the accident, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your children.

Doing so will preserve their rights to compensation and keep the case from proscribing due to the clock running out on the statute of limitations. Once that is filed by your Kentucky personal injury attorney, he or she can seek evidence through the discovery process which will bolster your children's case.

That evidence might include any weight limitations of the display rod that was supporting the hanging costumes, as well as the design and manufacturing specification of the display itself.

If you or your family members suffer an injury while shopping in a store or mall, filing a claim for damages and/or a personal injury lawsuit may be in your best interest.

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