Target is one of the top 10 retailers in the United States. It’s approaching 2,000 stores across the country with about 350,000 employees. It brings in more than $350 billion in revenue annually. Target stores are big, and since most of its employees work on a part-time basis, its stores may be understaffed. The stores sell everything from clothing to furniture to health care products and services.
Target’s Legal Duty to Customers
In California, there is a legal duty incumbent on Target under the law of premises liability. That duty is to maintain both the inside and outside of its business premises in a reasonably safe condition so as not to expose customers to hazards that might injure them. With minimal staffing at something barely over minimum wage, the duty can be difficult to fulfill. Target faces thousands of premises liability claims and lawsuits every year. They primarily revolve around slip-and-falls, trip-and-falls and merchandise falling from above onto shoppers. Most claims and lawsuits involve slip-and-falls and trip-and-falls.
Nearly all premises liability cases are controlled by the law of negligence. In a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall case involving Target or any other retailer, it must be proved that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of a hazardous condition on its premises and failed to either repair or warn of it until such time as it was repaired. Actual notice might be shown if the retailer created the hazardous condition. Constructive notice might be imputed if the retailer failed to make periodic inspections of the premises, and a customer was injured by a hazardous condition that would have been discovered if a timely inspection was made.
Reporting the Accident
It’s strongly recommended that a written report of an accident be completed by management. Your name, address and phone number and what caused the fall need only be disclosed. What you were doing or looking at need not be addressed. You don’t know how management might interpret anything else. You can disclose the specifics to your attorney. Request that a copy of the report be given to you then and there. After that, seek immediate medical treatment. If you believe that paramedics and an ambulance are necessary to take you to an emergency room, 911 should be called. After that, you should contact us immediately.
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After giving your written report of injury, we don’t recommend that you speak with anybody from Target or its insurer. They are likely to want information from you, but they will only use any information that they get from you against in efforts to devalue or even deny your claim. California law doesn’t require you to cooperate with Target’s insurer. No matter what its representative says, politely refuse to give any information. Call us right after that if you haven’t retained us yet.
Target and its insurer are only going to tell you that it had no knowledge of the defective condition, or you weren’t watching where you were going. It might offer you some nuisance money just to go away. The one thing that Target isn’t going to tell you is that it can still be held liable for a percentage of your damages, especially in California where pure comparative negligence law applies. Any percentage of liability attributable to Target could translate into the overwhelming percentage of your damages too.
In 2016, a South Carolina woman was awarded more than $4.5 million after she was stuck by a needle that her daughter picked up in a Target parking lot. Target offered the woman $750 before trial. In late 2018, in New Jersey, a mediated $350,000 settlement was entered into after a customer slipped on an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice outside of a Target store. In early 2017, a verdict of $2.1 million was awarded by a jury after a Pennsylvania woman fell when approaching a floor that had been freshly mopped after a soft drink spill. She suffered a torn hamstring at the hip that required surgery and a body cast after that.