How can I get a store to cooperate if one of their customers accidentally injured me?

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How can I get a store to cooperate if one of their customers accidentally injured me?

I was shopping at a national retail chain and another customer pulled an item down from the wall. He missed pulling it off, fell backwards into me and his elbow hit

my cheekbone. I had to go to the hospital and get checked out and as a result I have incurred medical bills. Now, the store is refusing my case and will not give me the name of the man who hit me. How do I get that man’s name so I can sue him in small claims court for my medical bills? Of course, the store is refusing to give me

a video copy of the accident, which would be helpful in my claim.

Asked on February 25, 2016 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The store is under no obligation to give you the security videotape or other information unless you subpoena the information. However, to subpoena, you will first have to file the lawsuit against him. Inquire at the clerk's office in the court house how to file a lawsuit using a fictitious name (e.g. "John Doe"), which you can then later amend to the correct name if/when you have it.
You'll have to get the person's name to sue him, and while you can also subpoena any incident reports, etc. that the store has, it's quite possible they don't have any record of his name; if not, it's difficult to see how you can find this person.
Also, bear in mind that there is a *very* good chance that even if you find out who this is, that he will not be liable. People  are NOT liable every time they hurt someone; they are only liable if they did so deliberately or negligently. "Negligence" means "unreasonable carelessness"--it's more than just slipping. If the other customer was not doing anything unwise or stupid, but just happened to slip and lose his balance, he would most likely not be liable for your injury.


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