Black Friday crowds bring out the worst in people. For many, this day is set aside to score the best deals and nothing will stand in their way of doing so — including other shoppers. Shopping injuries throughout the year are uncommon, and usually slip and falls or some other type of personal injury. However, on Black Friday, injuries occur as the result of being pushed and/or trampled by a crowd of eager shoppers — or worse, being involved in a fight.

Last year, 225,000,000 people went shopping on Black Friday (about 37% of Americans), spending $11,4000,000,000. With that number of people willing to spend that much money, it is no wonder there are more and more Black Friday injuries each year. Over half the number of shoppers (about 57%) had a “fun” experience, however, many Americans have sustained serious injuries or even death because of this holiday tradition.

What types of Black Friday injuries can occur?

Black Friday injuries due to an overenthusiastic crowd can range from minor injuries from pushing and shoving to death. These Black Friday incidents have occurred across the United States in the recent years:

  • In Long Island, New York, an overnight Wal-Mart employee was trampled when he opened the doors in the early morning hours. The crowd pushed through the doors he had been standing behind and continued to stampede over him. Other Wal-Mart employees attempted to help their co-worker, but feared for their lives. The man was pronounced dead in the hospital later that day.
  • At a Toys R Us in Palm Desert, California, two women began to fight over sale items. The fight escalated very quickly, which led to their male partners fighting as well. Apparently both men had happened to bring guns with them into the children’s toy store, ending in both of their deaths.
  • A pregnant woman in New York was trampled by shoppers at a Wal-Mart. She was taken to the hospital and recovered from her injuries, however, suffered a miscarriage as a result of the injuries.
  • A woman standing second in line at a Florida Wal-Mart was also trampled by the crowd behind her trying to get in. She sustained neck and back injuries, resulting partial paralysis. She now walks with a cane and is prescribed pain and memory medication. “I saved 100 dollars on that computer. I’ve probably spent 100,000 dollars on medical bills,” she said.
  • In Torrance, California, mall management drops balloons filled with gift certificates on Black Friday, creating a frenzy of thousands of people all running toward one place. However, the tradition has since stopped when an elderly woman was violently injured by the crowd, being sent to the hospital.
  • 20 people were injured in Los Angeles, California by a woman who wanted to get through the crowd to purchase a video game player. The woman sprayed the crowd with pepper spray, causing additional injuries due to the chaos following her attack.

How can you prevent Black Friday injuries?

Storeowners will most likely do only what is required of them for situations like this. Other than hanging signs to warn people to behave and hiring security in case of an out of control situation, the storeowner cannot control the crowd of shoppers. The best way to avoid Black Friday injuries is to opt for some of the less crowded stores, look for your product ahead of time to avoid a lengthy search process in the store, and/or shop online the Monday following Black Friday (now called “Cyber Monday”).

Who’s to blame if you are injured?

Some Black Friday injuries could be the result of the store’s negligence or premises liability, meaning they did not fulfill their responsibility to keep a safe shopping environment. However, other than a person’s own principles that may keep them from trampling another human being, there someone else to blame: The National Retail Federation (NRF).

The NRF’s responsibility is “to advance the interests of the retail industry through advocacy, communications and education.” Basically, making it easier for the consumer to know what is going on with all retailers at the same time and drumming up publicity for them. Obviously, Black Friday is a huge profit for not only the stores giving the discounts for that day, but for the NRF as well. As the world’s largest retail trade association, responsible for the colossal popularity of Black Friday, why haven’t they started regulating the holiday to prevent injuries from happening? The NRF provides its members with a short crowd management guide, but that is all. There is no other regulation for how stores should run their businesses during potentially dangerous days, which is why the NRF is the only one who could make this shopping day less dangerous.

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday this year. For more information about how to avoid Black Friday injuries, or if you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, do not hesitate to contact me. Call me at 206-285-1743.

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