Most of us visit a supermarket or shopping centre at least once a week. When we go there, we expect to enjoy our trip to the shops in a safe environment, free from incident.
However, slips, trips and falls in supermarkets or shopping centres are still quite a regular occurrence, despite the efforts shops may go to in order to prevent them.
Shoppers are often distracted, in a rush – focused on the next item they need, and not paying attention to their surroundings. As a result, claims for shopping centre and supermarket-related injuries are one of the most common areas in which people seek compensation.
Liquids – whether from spillages or leakages from refrigerators and freezers, small items (think M&Ms, grapes, and so forth) are often the culprits for a slip or fall.
Common causes of injuries in / around shopping centres include:
If you have suffered an injury in a supermarket or shopping centre, and you are able to demonstrate that it has resulted from the business’ carelessness or negligence, then you will be able to claim against their public liability insurance for the costs and damages to you, covering things like medical and rehabilitation expenses, associated travel, past and future lost wages.
Claims can sometimes be complicated.
It is the injured person’s (and their lawyers’) job to provide evidence of the business owner’s negligence.
This can be a challenge, especially because – if the person has just been injured – it will not be practical to expect them to remember all the details of a scene, or take photos, etc.
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Businesses take out public liability insurance policies to cover the costs of claims made against them if someone is injured or suffers damages at the place of business.
Supermarket or shop owners have a duty of care to provide a safe environment for their customers. This includes ensuring that their aisles are clean and obstacle-free.
The types of things you might expect of shop owners in carrying out this duty of care are:
Expectations are to a level of reasonableness – supermarkets are not supposed to have super powers! So, for example, in relation to a spillage that has only just occurred, it would generally not be reasonable to expect that it was attended to within seconds or even a couple of minutes.
Another test that might be considered is to ask :
Was the incident causing the injury foreseeable?
If it is obvious to an observer that something is likely to cause a slip, trip or fall, the supermarket has an obligation to remove the risk and provide a safe environment for its customers.
There will always be some accidents that no-one – no matter how cautious – could have seen coming.
Anne is doing her weekly grocery shopping with her 3 year old granddaughter, Veronica.
Veronica is carrying a bottle with juice in it, which she decides would be fun to shake around. The bottle lid pops and juice spills across the aisle, just as an elderly patron is about to walk past with a walking aid. It is only 30 seconds after the spill that the elderly man slips and breaks his arm.
In this case, given how quickly the accident occurred after an unpredictable spillage, it would be difficult to try and show that the supermarket has been negligent or careless, and so the elderly man would be unlikely to be able to claim compensation against the shop’s public liability insurer.
For more general information on the process and commonly asked questions, see Smith’s lawyers article relating to public place injuries, here [hyperlink https://www.smithslawyers.com.au/services/public-liability]
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.