Occupiers (including owners of private property and public authorities), have a duty of care toward people coming onto their land. They must take reasonable care to make sure people coming onto their property are not exposed to risks that are likely to cause injury, such as a slip and fall. This means that if there is something that is potentially dangerous on their property they must rectify it or warn people of the danger.
You may be able to claim public place compensation for injuries that result from a slip and fall if it was caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Simply injuring yourself while you are on public property or in a shopping centre, restaurant or carpark does not automatically entitle you to be paid compensation for your injuries by the occupier.
Shopping centres often have polished floors which are slippery when wet and it is common for patrons, especially children, to drop or spill food or drinks while they are walking around. This poses a legitimate slip and fall risk.
For this reason, shopping centres are required to have a system of inspection for identifying and clearing spills. However, the law recognises that it is unreasonable to expect that all spills can be rectified all of the time and entrants at shopping centres are also required to take reasonable care for their own safety and to watch where they are walking.
Where a shopping centre can prove that they adhered to an adequate system of inspection and clearing of spills, this is usually sufficient to discharge their due of care. On the other hand, if there is evidence that they did not respond quickly enough to reported spills or failed to carry out sufficient inspections to identify slipping risks, they may be liable for any injuries that result.
Example: Jeff is walking through a shopping centre texting on his phone when he slips in a puddle of spilt soft drink on the floor. Surveillance camera footage showed that the drink was dropped by a patron about an hour prior, however due to insufficient cleaning staff being rostered on that day, there were no inspections of that area of the shopping centre during the morning. The shopping centre may be found liable for Jeff’s injuries because a proper system of inspection and cleaning was not being implemented at the time of the incident. Because Jeff was texting and failed to look where he was going though, there may be some reduction of his damages for contributory negligence.
Fiona is walking through a shopping centre when a child in a stroller in front of her drops a milkshake in her path. With no time to react, Fiona steps into the liquid and slips, falling to the ground and sustaining back injuries. Since there was no time for the shopping centre to respond to the spill and nothing they could have done to advert the incident, it is unlikely to be found negligent nor liable for Fiona’s injuries.
Tiled and polished floors are slippery when wet, and areas which must be mopped throughout the day may pose a slip risk until they dry.
Occupiers must therefore warn entrants of wet areas and avoid unnecessary amounts of water or soap being left on surfaces where patrons are walking. If they fail to do this, they may be held liable for any injuries that result. Having been warned of the increased risk of slipping, it is also up to patrons to take care for their own safety.
Example: Jeff is having lunch with friends at a restaurant. While he is walking to the front counter to pay his bill he slips on a tiled floor where a staff member has just sprayed a large amount of clear floor cleaner onto a spill. There are no signs or barriers to warn of the slippery floor. The restaurant will likely be liable for Jeff’s injuries as it failed to warn of the risk.
You may be able to claim compensation for injuries that occur at a bar or restaurant if the injuries were caused by the occupier’s negligence or carelessness.
The fact that a person is intoxicated does not alter the standard of care which is owed by an occupier, however, where a claimant is intoxicated at the time of a slip and fall, there is a presumption of contributory negligence which will usually reduce their damages by 25%.
Example: Fiona goes out to watch a band with friends at a bar. After several hours of drinking, she gets up to go to the bathroom. As she walks in front of the stage she slips on the polished concrete dance floor where many alcoholic drinks had been spilt throughout the night. The bar will likely be held liable for Fiona’s injuries as it failed to ensure there was an adequate cleaning system capable of ensuring split liquids were removed from the dance floor in a timely manner. However, Fiona’s damages may be reduced by 25% for contributory negligence because there is evidence she was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
Slips occur where a foot loses traction with the floor due to inappropriate footwear or a slippery ground surface due to a spillage, coating or highly polished finish.
Slip and fall injuries typically occur on:
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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