Food is one of the most basic necessities of life, and everyone deserves to be able to access it safely. Much of the time, going out to shop for food means trusting your safety to the Kroger company, which refers to itself, not without cause, as “America’s Grocer.”
There are 173 Kroger stores in Georgia alone, and most Americans have probably been inside a Kroger-owned grocery store at some point in their lives whether they know it or not. In addition to the grocery stores simply named Kroger, the Kroger company owns the brands:
- City Market
- Dillons Food Stores
- Food 4 Less
- Foods Co
- Fred Meyer
- Fry’s Food Stores
- Gerbes Super Markets
- Harris Teeter Neighborhood Food & Pharmacy
- Jay C Food Stores
- King Soopers
- Metro Market
- Pay Less Super Markets
- Owen’s Market (soon to be discontinued)
- Pick ‘n Save
- Quality Food Carriers
- Roundy’s Supermarkets
- Ruler Foods
Kroger also owns a few non-grocery brands.
Millions of people shop at Kroger stores every day, and most of the time it’s a simple, routine chore. However, when Kroger fails to keep its stores hazard-free and someone gets hurt, it can be a difficult and intimidating task to get fair compensation from the grocery giant.
Below, we’ll talk about different kinds of Kroger grocery store injuries and when you can sue Kroger. If you’d prefer to discuss your situation directly with a Kroger injury lawyer in Georgia, you can reach out by phone or chat at any time for a free consultation.
Slip-and-Fall Accidents Are One of the Most Common Ways People Are Injured at Kroger
There have been multiple cases already this year in which shoppers have reported slip-and-fall injuries from inside Kroger grocery stores, due to hazards they say they were not warned about.
In Texas, a man allegedly slipped in a Kroger store on a puddle of water that had leaked into an aisle from a malfunctioning refrigeration unit. According to his suit, he needed surgery to help correct his resulting shoulder injury.
Less than two months later, in West Virginia, a woman filed a similar suit, also alleging that she had suffered a slip-and-fall accident in a Kroger store, also because of unmarked water puddles on the floor.
Although corporations have unfortunately succeeded in giving slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall cases a negative reputation, there’s good reason why these are still some of the most common types of cases for individuals to bring against large companies like Kroger.
Slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents can usually be prevented if businesses stay on the lookout for hazards and address them in a timely manner, as they’re legally supposed to. Yet these incidents continue to happen on a fairly regular basis across the country.
Falls are not the trivial annoyance they’re often depicted as, either. In fact, they’re the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths around the world. People who survive accidental falls, even on flat surfaces, can sustain much worse injuries than a few temporary bruises. Broken bones and brain injuries are common. Spinal trauma often leads to lifelong, invisible pain.
Most people facing sudden, serious injuries are not able to pay for the medical care they need. Personal medical insurance, if present at all, usually covers only a portion of expenses, and the insurance company may refuse to pay at all if it believes someone else, such as a negligent property owner, can be held liable instead.
A personal injury suit is often the only way for a slip-and-fall survivor to cover their medical bills, let alone make up for their lost income and receive any consideration for their pain.
Other Types of Accidents in Kroger Stores Are Also Worth Addressing
Falls aren’t the only way people can be injured in a Kroger store. Another mundane-seeming but serious type of accident occurs when merchandise falls from a height and strikes someone standing below.
Serious falling object accidents are less common in standard grocery store layouts like Ralphs and Food 4 Less than they are in warehouse-style stores with higher shelving, but any store with shelves or displays that extend above head height can be dangerous if the merchandise is not stowed in a stable, secure way.
There have also been some more bizarre accidents at Kroger stores.
In November of 2020, a Kroger employee in Ohio was servicing his store’s “reverse vending machine” — a machine that collects certain recyclables from customers and prints receipts that can be redeemed for cash or credit. In spite of his request for customers to stand clear while he worked, one customer apparently fed an item into the machine, which caused it to start up and, in the employee’s words, “start eating his hand.” The customer ran away, and the employee lost multiple fingers.
Kroger could potentially be held liable for not providing a better lockout system to protect employees from unexpected machine startups. The fact that this dangerous procedure was apparently being performed in a publicly accessible area calls into question how safe the environment was for the customers as well.
More recently, in March of 2021, Kroger employees in Virginia tasked with administering the COVID-19 vaccine accidentally injected multiple people with empty syringes instead. Not saline-filled syringes, as was initially reported, but syringes filled with air. Though the mistake was quickly corrected and no serious injuries were reported, injecting air into the body is dangerous and can cause strokes and other vascular problems.
Even if the syringes had indeed been full of harmless saline, falsely leading people to believe they had the protection of the vaccine could have caused them to take unintended risks based on that misinformation, if the mistake hadn’t been discovered.
If you have been injured in any type of accident in a Kroger store, usual or unusual, it’s worth speaking with a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights.
Kroger May Also Be Responsible for Protecting You from Crime
Although companies like Kroger are generally not responsible for the sudden, random criminal acts of third parties, they are responsible for protecting their guests from known hazards. When violent crime forms a discernable pattern, it becomes a known hazard, and companies are required to take precautions.
So, if you were injured during a crime on Kroger property, and a similar crime happened previously in the same store or another nearby grocery store, you may be able to sue Kroger. This does not conflict with any of your legal options for holding the perpetrator themselves accountable.
Sadly, crime is another common cause of injuries in Kroger stores, and what protection customers get often comes from each other rather than the company. In October of 2020, a man reportedly tried to rob a woman in an Ohio Kroger. When an off-duty security guard who was there as a shopper restrained the suspected thief, the suspect stabbed the guard three times in the thigh.
Five months later, in Colorado, a man opened fire with an assault rifle and pistol inside a King Soopers, killing ten people.
Another month after that, here in Georgia, shoppers in a Kroger store responded to a woman’s screams and detained a man now accused of raping her until police arrived.
It’s easy to think of crimes as isolated freak occurrences, but after a violent crime takes place in a Kroger store, a lawyer can help determine whether there were previous crimes that should have given Kroger the necessary knowledge to prevent this one.
Kroger Has Fought Hard to Withhold Money from Those with Claims Against It
Kroger is the largest dedicated grocery chain in the U.S and the third-largest company that carries groceries, after Walmart and Amazon. The company is currently valued at $43.45 billion and has only gotten richer since the beginning of 2020, when it was valued at around $27 billion. Yet when the time comes for Kroger to do the right thing for the customers or employees it depends on, the company has consistently claimed that it cannot afford to do so, or outright refused.
In April of 2021, Kroger announced that it would be closing three grocery stores in California, eliminating jobs and reducing residents’ access to food with the pandemic still ongoing, to avoid giving its frontline employees required hazard pay.
After the Colorado mass shooting, employees of the King Soopers were of course terrified to return to work, devastated by their coworkers’ deaths, and suffering symptoms of psychological trauma. Kroger reportedly offered each worker $500, a DoorDash gift card, and video grief counseling. One of the employees interviewed by The Washington Post, however, says that the counselor he was referred to declined to take him on as a new patient, and that employees who were not clocked in at the time of the shooting were denied assistance. He also understandably considers $500 to be “a slap in the face,” considering the severity of what the survivors are going through, and says he was called “difficult” for criticizing the company’s financial priorities.
Even in much smaller-scale scenarios, like an individual’s personal injury claim, Kroger has been known to go to extreme lengths to avoid paying. In 2008, a man slipped on a banana in a Georgia Kroger location and fell. Kroger denied all responsibility and claimed that no security cameras covered the area where the fall occurred. The court ultimately determined that Kroger had deliberately erased the video footage, and then falsified sample footage to make it look as if the cameras were pointed away. The man was awarded $2.3 million.
In short, giant corporations like Kroger will almost invariably protect the bottom line at all costs. If Kroger has hurt you, it won’t work to file a claim and hope for the company to treat you fairly. However, with qualified legal representation, it is possible to get the compensation you deserve.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured at a Kroger Store
If you may have been seriously injured in a Kroger store, you need to move quickly to make sure the necessary evidence is preserved, so that you don’t end up stuck with a lifetime of expenses and no recourse. Immediately after the accident, follow these steps:
- Arrange for a medical examination. If you are obviously severely injured, call for emergency services. If not, see your own doctor as soon as possible to check for hidden injuries that may worsen with time.
- Preserve what evidence you can yourself. This typically includes taking pictures of the place where the accident occurred, noting the position of surveillance cameras, and identifying witnesses.
- Report the essentials of the accident to Kroger, but do not speculate on blame or speak with insurance representatives.
- Reach out to qualified legal counsel immediately, so that your lawyer can get to work on obtaining security footage and handle contact with Kroger on your behalf.
The Stoddard Firm has extensive experience in the areas of personal injury and premises liability, and we have a strong track record of helping our clients take on powerful corporations and win.
If you’re ready to talk to a Kroger injury lawyer in Georgia about your case, just give us a call at 678-RESULT or reach out through our online chat function.