Liability For Supermarket Shopping Cart Injuries: What Parents Need To Know

23 August 2016
 Categories: Law, Blog


Shopping carts make it easy to collect your purchases at the supermarket, but these seemingly innocuous wheeled devices can also lead to serious injuries, particularly for children. In fact, studies show that 66 children suffer an injury due to a shopping cart in the United States every day. If one of your children suffers an injury in this way, you may wonder what your legal rights are. Find out here.

The nature of shopping cart injuries

While many supermarkets now adhere to voluntary standards for shopping cart safety, injuries are still surprisingly common for children. Most commonly, children suffer injuries when they fall from shopping carts, but other accidents occur when carts tip over, when children run into carts or when they get body parts trapped in the cart.

Injuries can vary, but head injuries are particularly common. In fact, 78.1 percent of all injuries affect this part of the body. Tissue damage is the most likely injury here, but concussion and internal head injuries can also occur.

Personal injury lawsuit principles

To win a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove that a person or organization (or both) were negligent. In principle, this means that you must:

  • Prove that the person or organization had a duty of care to you.
  • Prove that the person or organization breached this duty of care.
  • Prove that the breach led to an injury.

For shopping carts, the retailer has a duty of care to make sure that customers are safe in the store and/or when using equipment provided by the company. However, it isn't always easy to prove that a breach of this duty has occurred.

Shopping cart safety standards

In the United States, shopping cart safety standards are voluntary. While many supermarkets adhere to these standards, experts generally agree that the principles do not go far enough. Design changes that experts recommend include a lower center of gravity for the cart to cut the risk of injury, as the child is then closer to the ground.

Nonetheless, without stricter standards around shopping carts, it's not always easy to prove that the retailer was negligent. Indeed, many retailers will argue that it is the parent's responsibility to supervise children in carts. As such, it is often tricky to prove negligence in these cases.

Examples of negligence

Even without mandatory safety standards, negligence can still happen when it comes to shopping carts.

Missing or broken restraints mean that children do not have adequate protection. If a restraint needs a repair, retailers must make sure the dysfunctional equipment is not available to customers. In fact, in this case, parents can also sometimes file a negligence lawsuit against the manufacturer for a faulty design, inadequate instructions or failure to maintain the device adequately.

Similarly, the design of a restraint system is also sometimes not adequate. If a wriggling child can get free of the restraint, the design of the device is possibly not suitable, which is also an example of negligence. Guidelines in the voluntary standard highlight the importance of occupancy retention performance requirements. If a supermarket claims to follow the standard, parents can often file a lawsuit for negligence when the cart fails to meet the guidelines.

The importance of an attorney

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of these lawsuits. He or she can advise you on the evidence you may need to compile, and he or she may also have experience with similar cases from which you can learn. An attorney can also help you defend a counter-claim of shared negligence from the retailer, as many stores will claim that the accident was your fault.

Supermarket shopping cart injuries are common, and many children suffer as a result of these accidents. Talk to an experienced attorney for more information or advice.