Visitor Question

Tore my rotator cuff at store because clerk didn’t help. Can I sue?

Submitted By: Anonymous (New Castle, Pennsylvania)

I was purchasing two cabinets at a store and asked for help to pick them up and bring them to the front of the store. The employee said. “There’s the flatbed” and didn’t help me load or move the cabinets. I picked up the furniture by myself, and hurt my shoulder!

I called the store after I got home to tell them I was hurt at the store. I also wrote, sent an email, and filed an incident report.

I went to my doctor, who ordered an MRI. The doctor said I tore my rotator cuff from picking up the furniture.

Can I sue the store? I’m so upset and in a lot of pain! Thanks for letting me know my options.

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.


Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your question. A quick answer is that you might be able to sue the store on a negligence theory.

Given the fact that the store has not responded to your letter and email, you may want to consider a personal injury attorney for assistance.

The Store Owed You a Duty of Care

Retail stores in Pennsylvania, and all states, owe their customers a duty of care. This duty says that the store has to try and keep its patrons safe and avoid causing them harm.

If the store fails to uphold this duty, and a person gets injured, the store is negligent.

Negligence is a legal term that says a store failed to act responsibly or did something that a reasonable person would not do.

If a person is injured due to someone’s negligence, then they can file a claim to recover any damages they incurred.

Damages include reimbursement for things like:

The Store’s Negligence

The real question here is whether the cabinet store was negligent in not helping you move the cabinets. The facts suggest maybe it was. Cabinets are heavy objects. They are often awkward to move, and help is required.

Further, as your injury attests, a person can get injured easily by attempting to lift a cabinet on their own. This attempt could also hurt another person if the cabinet fell or crashed to the floor.

Given this, it is reasonable to say that a store should have some process in place to help customers move certain items. The cabinet store’s failure to have any type of procedure may suggest it was negligent.

Further, there is also an argument that the employee in your case was negligent. A reasonable employee would know that a customer could get injured by trying to lift a cabinet alone. If negligent, then this carelessness could get attributed to the store.

Comparative Negligence

If you sued the store, there is a good chance it might try to reduce any damage award you may recover by saying you were comparatively negligent.

Comparative negligence means that the injured party was somehow to blame for the injury, along with the other at-fault party.

The store will probably say you were partially to blame for your injuries since you didn’t use the flatbed that the employee offered. This might have some merit since the store probably makes the flatbed available to help patrons to avoid injury when moving large and awkward things.

Comparative negligence does not mean you will not succeed in a personal injury claim.

Pennsylvania law says that comparatively negligent parties can still sue for injuries so long as they were less negligent than the other party.

Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law states:

“In all actions brought to recover damages for negligence resulting in death or injury to person or property, the fact that the plaintiff may have been guilty of contributory negligence shall not bar a recovery by the plaintiff or his legal representative where such negligence was not greater than the causal negligence of the defendant or defendants against whom recovery is sought, but any damages sustained by the plaintiff shall be diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributed to the plaintiff.”

General Assembly Statute § 7102

The language of the statute means you can still sue the store provided that it was more negligent than you in causing your shoulder injury. Further, any final recovery you may be entitled to could get reduced by your percentage of negligence.

Help From a Personal Injury Attorney

In moving forward with this case, we suggest that you seek assistance from a local personal injury lawyer.

Comparative negligence laws are sometimes complicated and tricky. A local attorney is best suited to make sure you still receive compensation even if somewhat to blame for your injury.

Also, the facts show that the store is not quick to work with you. You’ve done your homework in filing an incident report and sending a letter and an email. However, the store’s silence suggests they are avoiding the matter.

An experienced injury attorney can find ways to cut through this stillness and get the ball moving.

We hope you heal soon, and your pain begins to go away.

Learn more here: Retail Store Injury Claims

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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