This page is about premises liability and other personal injury lawsuits against Costco. Our lawyers look at the most common types of personal injury claims against Costco and discuss settlement amounts in claims against this retailer, including example settlements and jury payouts.
Costco is a chain of warehouse-type stores that offer a huge variety of products at competitive prices. Costco has 10 Maryland stores. Like other warehouse-type stores, shopping at Costco requires a membership. The cost of membership helps reduce overhead and costs, which, theoretically, reduces prices.
You would think, coming from personal injury lawyers, this is the part where we would argue that Costco is a poorly run business that causes thousands of unnecessary injuries. However, this is not our argument. We do not contend that Costco is an awfully run business. However, it is true that Costco runs a huge warehouse store with lots of heavy merchandise and equipment. Add tons of passing customers into the mix, and it is a recipe for a disaster which is why you see a lot of Costco claims.
How Accidents Happen at Costco
Most lawsuits against Costco are premises liability cases. If you visit a Costco on any weekend, the chances that the place is going to be packed are great. There is always high activity at these types of stores, which increases the risk of an accident.
In recent years, many personal injury cases have popped up; naming Costco or similar stores as defendants. This does not mean that these stores are inherently dangerous or the company does not care about its customers. It really boils down to how items are set up, presented, and sold. In addition, how well trained and dedicated the employees are to safety.
Information on Your Claim
Eight Most Types of Lawsuits Against Costco
Premises liability lawsuits against Costco, like those against other retailers, typically focus on injuries that occur due to unsafe conditions on the property, which the management knew about or should have known about. Here are some common types of premises liability claims filed against companies such as Costco:
1. Slip and Fall Accidents: The leading type of lawsuit against Costco is trip and fall cases involving wet surfaces, poor weather conditions, uneven surfaces, and improper maintenance. These are the most common claims and occur when customers slip on wet or oily surfaces, trip over uneven flooring, or fall due to poor lighting or cluttered walkways. If Costco fails to address these hazards promptly, it can be held liable for any resulting injuries.
2. Falling Merchandise: While most stores utilize shelves and standard displays, Costco prefers the warehouse vibe and stacks most items on palettes. Obviously, this can cause displays to become knocked over or items to fall if an item is improperly removed. Costco employees typically have to operate forklifts and other heavy machinery, which only makes aisles more perilous. These employees have much more responsibility compared to those at other stores. So it is important to hold Costco accountable when an employee fails to live up to the task.
3. Parking Lot Injuries: Customers may sustain injuries in Costco’s parking lots due to potholes, uneven surfaces, poor lighting, or falling debris. Costco can be held responsible if it can be shown that they did not maintain the parking area adequately.
4. Injuries from Shopping Carts: Faulty or poorly maintained shopping carts can cause injuries, either from the cart itself or from items falling off the cart. If Costco does not keep carts in good repair, they could face liability for accidents. But what our lawyers also see is employees running carts into customers, and you will see that in example settlements and verdicts against Costco below.
5. Construction and Maintenance Accidents: Costco always seems to be building or repairing something. If there are ongoing construction or maintenance activities within the store and a customer gets injured due to a lack of proper barriers or warnings, Costco will be liable for the injuries sustained.
6. Negligent Security: Costco could be sued for injuries resulting from assaults or other negligent security breaches if it is found that they did not provide adequate security or lighting or if they failed to address known security threats.
7. Escalator and Elevator Accidents: If an individual is injured due to a malfunctioning escalator or elevator, and it can be proven that Costco did not properly inspect or maintain the equipment, they can be held responsible. Our lawyers have never seen one of these cases, mostly because Costco is on one floor.
8. Injuries to Children: If a child is injured at Costco due to potentially dangerous conditions that should have been foreseen and prevented, such as unsecured displays or hazardous materials within reach, the parents might file a lawsuit.
- Should you get a lawyer for your accident claim against Costco? The answer may surprise you.
Litigating a Costco Case
No store can be 100% safe, but there is still a duty to make a store reasonably safe for customers and employees. This means that stores should avoid creating hazards that could potentially pose a risk to customers while warning customers of existing hazards.
Bringing a successful case against Costco means that an injured customer has to prove a few things: 1) they were injured on Costco’Costco’ses; 2) the injuries occurred because of a hazardous condition or negligence on behalf of Costco; 3) the proprietor or manager of the property was negligent in their responsibilities to ensure that you remained safe.
Sample Costco Settlement Amounts and Jury Payouts
We pulled some personal injury cases that involved Costco. Costco certainly has claims in Maryland. But few lawsuits are getting filed. Even fewer are going to trial.
These verdicts are attractive While these should give you an idea of the types of injuries and awards that are typically at play here, they are by no means perfect predictors of how a case will turn out.
- 2022, New York: $1.6 Million Verdict – A 56-year-old woman was injured at Costco when she slipped on a puddle at Costco that had been unmarked by warning signs an hour and a half after first noticing it. A store maintenance worker claimed he responded to the spill within minutes and that a wet floor sign was present, although he saw the plaintiff jumping over the puddle before falling. No video evidence of the fall was produced, despite photographs suggesting the presence of security cameras. The plaintiff experienced immediate and ongoing pain after the incident, which led to medical visits, neck surgery, and continuous pain management treatments. She still suffers from significant pain, particularly during colder months, and has a limited range of neck motion, impacting her daily activities and quality of life. She admitted to pre-existing degenerative disc disease but had no prior neck injuries before the fall at Costco. The jury found that both parties were negligent, assigned 87% fault to Costco and 13% fault to the plaintiff, and awarded damages totaling $1,604,996.
- 2019, Tennessee: $328,140 Verdict – The plaintiff, an adult female, was shopping at a Costco store when she was struck in the back by a shopping cart by an employee. The plaintiff reportedly suffered a ruptured disc at L5, aggravation of a pre-existing rupture or bulge at L4, contusions, and Cauda Equina Syndrome, resulting in limb paralysis and the need for multiple surgeries. Costco denied liability and took the case to trial. A jury awarded $328,000 but found Costco was only 40% at fault, so under Tennessee’s fault rule, the award was reduced to $196,000.
- 2017, Nevada: $400,000 Verdict – Plaintiff tries to exit the check-out area at Costco. He slips on a piece of cardboard. he suffers a serious ankle fracture. Costco claims the plaintiff is in an employee-only area. The jury finds Costco at fault but does find the plaintiff 15% at fault, presumably for walking in the restricted area in the first place.
- 2015, Washington: $80,667 Verdict – The plaintiff wants to purchase a safe at Costco. It weighs approximately 300 pounds, prompting the man to ask for assistance from store employees. When only one employee arrives, the plaintiff asks for another. He is told that no other employees are available. But the employee says that he will have to assist in carrying the safe. When he goes to lift the safe, the employee shifts it without giving any warning to the plaintiff, causing his arm to “pop.” He is now unable to straighten it. He sues Costco, claiming that they should have carried the safe to his vehicle. The jury returns a verdict of $80,667, which is then deducted by 50% for the contributory negligence.
- 2015, Illinois: $125,000 Settlement – A retired newspaper manager was walking into a Costco to make copies of his daughter’s photos when he stepped on a curb that was recently painted with high-gloss paint. The man slips on the paint, hitting his head when he falls to the ground. He sustains a fractured orbital bone. He sues Costco, claiming that the store was negligent in caring for the curb. He alleged that it was standard practice to use paint on walking areas that create friction, and Costco deviated from standard practice by using high-gloss paint. He further alleges that another customer had previously slipped on the paint, so Costco was on notice of the condition. On the first day of the trial, the plaintiff received a $125,000 slip-and-fall settlement offer that she accepted.
- 2014, New York: $9,900,000 Verdict – A 48-year-old woman is shopping at a Costco when an employee places her partially loaded cart onto an upward-moving cart escalator. She stands behind the escalator and notices the cart starting to come back towards her. When she goes to stop it, it suddenly plunges towards her, hitting her right arm. She develops complex regional pain syndrome, which requires injections, daily medication, and hospitalization. Doctors determined that she will require a spinal implant at some point in the future. She sues Costco, claiming that the employee failed to properly lock the cart into place. After the case went to trial, a jury returns an award of nearly $10,000,000.
- 2012, Florida: $2,175 Verdict – While shopping with her mother at Costco, an 11-year-old girl slips on spilled soup. After the accident, the girl, and her mother go to the hospital, where doctors diagnose her with a fractured tailbone. She experiences consistent pain in her tailbone and claims that she suffers from embarrassment because she constantly has to use a cushion to sit at school. Her mother sues Costco on her behalf. At trial, defense counsel claimed that the girl did not sustain any serious or permanent injuries and that there were huge gaps in her dates of treatment. The jury finds in the plaintiff’s awarding her $2,175.
- 2012, California: $414,868 Verdict – A middle-aged notary shops at Costco when she slips on a foreign substance in the food court. She sustains a patella fracture of her right knee and is taken to a hospital where she undergoes an open reduction. She makes a good recovery but claims that she may develop arthritis in her leg because of the fall. She sues Costco, alleging several employees observed the hazard and took no action. She is ultimately successful, with the jury awarding her $414,868.
You can also find a lot of EEOC claims against Costco.
Hiring a Maryland Lawyer for Your Claim
The attorneys at Miller & Zois have a wealth of experience in personal injury lawsuits, especially premises liability claims which is mostly what we see with Costco as a defendant. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that occurred at Costco, call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.