Visitor Question

Can I hold the supermarket liable for my broken shoulder if another customer knocked me down?

Submitted By: Teresa (Randolph, New Jersey)

While making my way to the cash register in a big chain supermarket, I was knocked down by a male customer who was rushing past me. I crashed to the ground and couldn’t get up or lift my arm. The ambulance transported me to the Emergency Room. I had x-rays on my arm and learned my humerus bone was broken and I would require surgery.

After my surgery I contacted the store. They denied the claim and only gave me the name of the person who made me fall. What should I do? Should the store compensate me due to the fact that the cash register area is unsafe with people criss-crossing?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Teresa,

For the supermarket owner to be responsible for your injuries and resulting medical treatment, you will have to show negligence on their part. Based on the facts you provide, store negligence does not seem apparent.

Store owners, including sole proprietorships, franchise owners, large supermarket chains, and other commercial property owners are subject to the law of “Premises Liability.” Premises liability generally means store owners have a legal duty to do everything within reason to keep their property safe for their customers. This might include:

  • Keeping the floor area clear of obstructions, debris, water, and other impediments
  • Maintaining proper lighting
  • Running background checks on store employees
  • Providing security personnel where required
  • Taking additional measures required to protect their customers

However, premises liability law cannot, and does not require store owners to stop customers who, without notice, run into, and knock down other customers. It would not only be impractical, but relatively impossible to do so.

The actions of the rushing customer appear to have been the cause of your injuries. Based on the facts you provide, there doesn’t seem to have been anything the store might have done to thwart the collision between you and the male customer. Unfortunately, your claim for reimbursement for your medical bills and resulting costs will only succeed against the male customer and not the supermarket chain.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: November 15, 2017

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