Can You Claim Compensation for Injuring Yourself at a Supermarket?


Yes, you may be entitled to claim compensation if you were injured in a supermarket in Queensland due to the supermarket's negligence. However, it's important to understand the specific circumstances of your accident to determine if they have a legal responsibility for your injuries.

Supermarket’s Duty of Care

Accidents sustained in a public place such as a supermarket, as a result of a breach of duty of care by the owner of that property or place (when you are not at work, or in a motor vehicle) are covered by the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2003 (Qld) (that is, a “public liability” or PIPA claim). 

Supermarkets, like other businesses, have a duty of care to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe for customers and visitors. This means they need to take precautions to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.

Examples of Supermarket Negligence

Common situations where a supermarket might be considered to have acted negligently include:

  • Wet or Slippery Floors: Failure to properly clean up spills or leaks promptly, or not putting up clear warning signs about wet floors (however, these type of “slip and fall” accident claims can be complicated as it can be difficult to prove the supermarket were negligent).
  • Trip Hazards: Leaving boxes, stock, or other objects in aisles where they can create tripping hazards.
  • Inadequate Lighting: Poorly lit areas increase the risk of accidents, especially for those with vision problems.
  • Unsafe Displays: Stacked products that collapse or fall on customers, causing injuries.
  • Inadequate Maintenance: Broken handrails, loose tiles, or other defective conditions on the premises that could lead to injuries.

For example, in the recent decision of Buljat v Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd [2022] ACTCA 71, Coles was held liable for a slip and fall incident where the plaintiff slipped on a grape. In determining liability, the court looked at the evidence as to how often the supermarket was cleaned and the frequency of inspections by staff members to check for hazards. This will vary on a case by case basis, so it is always important to seek advice from a qualified lawyer. 

Supermarket Might NOT Be Liable

 A person does not breach a duty to take precautions against a risk of harm unless— 

(a) the risk was foreseeable (that is, it is a risk of which the person knew or ought reasonably to have known); and 

(b) the risk was not insignificant; and 

(c) in the circumstances, a reasonable person in the position of the person would have taken the precautions (see section 9 Civil Liability Act 2003 (Cth)).

There are instances where a supermarket might not be considered liable for your injury, such as:

  • Accidental Spills: If a spill occurs and the supermarket staff did not have a reasonable amount of time to discover and clean it up or place warning signs before your accident. Whether or not the supermarket is negligent will fall on their evidence as to the frequency of cleaning and inspections for hazards by staff members. 
  • Obvious Risks: If a risk was clearly visible and you should have reasonably been able to avoid it, you may not be successful in your claim.Relevantly, in Queensland, Division 3 of the Civil Liability Act 2003 sets out that there is no proactive duty to warn of obvious risks, and that anyone injured by such an obvious risk is presumed to have been aware of it. There cannot be a breach of duty in such circumstances.
  • Your Own Actions: If your accident was primarily caused by your own recklessness or carelessness, the supermarket might not be responsible, or the amount to which they are responsible will be reduced.

How to Support Your Claim

If you're injured at a supermarket, here are steps to take that can support a compensation claim:

  1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention: Prioritize your health and get any necessary medical treatment. Keep detailed medical records.
  2. Report the Accident: Notify a supermarket manager or staff member immediately and ask for an incident report to be completed.
  3. Gather Evidence: If possible, take photos of the hazard that caused your injury, the surrounding area, and your visible injuries. Collect names and contact information of any witnesses.
  4. Seek Legal Advice: A personal injury lawyer specializing in public liability cases can assess your situation, explain your legal options, and help you gather the evidence needed to build a strong claim.

Get Expert Help

At Smith's Lawyers, our supermarketing injury experts can provide free initial advice.

Contact us for a free initial consultation on 1800 960 482 or request a call back. We service all of Queensland and have offices in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, and Toowoomba. Our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise means you won't incur any upfront legal fees unless your claim is successful.

Last updated:
May 10, 2024

Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For help understanding your rights, please call 1800 960 482 or request a free case review to talk to one of our lawyers today.

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