Retail store owners and managers in Minnesota are not liable for every accident that occurs on their premises, but you have the right to expect that you will be safe while you shop. This includes floors that are clean and free of obstacles, and it also means you should never be in danger of falling merchandise.
According to Member Insurance, there are a number of indicators that merchandise may fall. Particularly in warehouse-type stores that sell items in bulk, inventory may be in boxes or on pallets on shelves high overhead. When stockers stack these on high shelves, and particularly if different sizes and shapes are on top of each other, it increases the risk that products will fall. Unsecured stacks of merchandise may not even be visible from the ground level, giving no warning of the hazards.
Products do not have to fall from a great height to injure you. Almost any product stocked above your shoulder level could cause a head injury if it falls, and if you must reach to the back of the shelf to pull an item down, you are more at risk.
Business owners should establish policies and procedures that protect customers. One of the first is to properly train employees on safe stocking methods. When using forklifts, employees should rope off aisles to prevent customers from being in the area. Many stores post signs stating that customers should not attempt to reach items on the top shelf without assistance from an employee. High demand merchandise should be at waist level.
This information about premises liability and falling merchandise is general in nature and should not be interpreted as legal advice.