Public Liability Claims

Supermarkets and Shopping Centres

Supermarkets and Shopping Centres

Supermarkets and shopping centres owe you a duty of care to exercise reasonable skill and care to avoid the risk of injury to you. This includes, particularly, creating and following a reasonable cleaning and inspection regime to identify and remove hazards to customers within a reasonable period. Therefore, if you have been injured in a supermarket or a shopping centre, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and loss that you have suffered.

What should I do after an injury at a supermarket or shopping centre?

important that you do the following at the time or soon after you are injured in a supermarket or a shopping centre:

  • focus on your injury

Seek first aid, if necessary: even a minor injury can become a lifelong condition without proper initial medical treatment.

Request for an ambulance to be called or attend an emergency department, if necessary.

At this stage, it is best to forget about any potential compensation claim you may have as a result your incident and concentrate on your health.

  • report your incident

You must tell the customer service desk or security personnel of the supermarket or shopping centre where your incident occurred and what caused your injury.

Request that an incident report be completed and request a copy for your records.

The question of who is to blame for your injury is best avoided at this stage. Even if you blame yourself, or if the person you report the incident to blames you for the incident, this does not mean that you do not have a claim for compensation.

  • take photos and video of the area of your incident and of what caused your incident

Contemporaneous evidence of the site of the incident location and circumstances that led to your injuries provide invaluable assistance to the preparation of a public liability compensation claim. You can never have too much evidence, and if ever in doubt it is better to take a photo or make a record of it.

– Example

If you slipped in a supermarket in a grape then take a picture on what you slipped on [i.e., the squashed grape on the floor] and where, as well the surroundings of the area of your incident.

  • make your own record of the circumstances of your incident as well as of all your symptoms

It is important that you keep an up-to-date list of your all your symptoms, whether on paper, computer, or your smartphone.

Treatment providers do not often record all your symptoms and complaints and often concentrate on what is serious at the time. The passage of time can make what seemed like a minor injury in the initial post incident period a long-term, debilitating condition. If there is no record of such injury or associated symptoms in your treating clinical notes, it will be difficult to attribute this injury to the incident. In the alternative, you can record video footage of you discussing your symptoms.

  • go to your general practitioner or hospital

You may have already been to see your general practitioner or received hospital treatment, however, you need to listen to your body and attend on your general practitioner or hospital as many times as you think fit. This is important, as if, for example, you only sought medical treatment once, the defendant or insurer to your claim will argue that you do not suffer from any ongoing problems or disabilities, because if you did you would have sought frequent medical treatment.

When will supermarkets or shopping centres be liable in negligence?

The duty owed by a supermarket or shopping centre is to exercise reasonable care to identify and remove potential hazards that can result in injury. It is not to guarantee that all hazards would be removed and that all injuries will be avoided.

Therefore, to be successful in a claim for damages arising out of an incident in a supermarket or a shopping centre, you must establish that the hazard that caused your injury was identifiable upon a reasonable system of inspection of the premises and should have been eliminated prior to you suffering injury. 

– Example

The most common incidents in supermarkets and shopping centres are slip and fall incidents. In a slip and fall incident involving a grape, for example, you would have to establish that the floor surface where you slipped and fell was not inspected within a reasonable period or that it was inspected but the hazard was not detected.  Alternatively, it may be possible to establish that something else could have been done to avoid your injury and injury, such as selling grapes in sealed bags only and not selling loose grapes or to provide non-slip matting in high-risk areas [i.e. in front of stalls containing loose grapes].

In a slip and fall case, a reasonable period for inspection and cleaning varies and depends on the circumstances of each case and the location of each slip and fall. In the common mall area of a shopping centre or a supermarket, a system of cleaning and inspection of floor surfaces of every 15 minutes [i.e., where a cleaner conducts an inspection of the floor surfaces by walking past the area of the shopping centre every 15 minutes] would be appropriate. However, in a food court area the situation is different because food court areas are high risk and, therefore, a more frequent system of cleaning and inspection of floor surfaces is warranted [i.e., a cleaner conducting an inspection of floor surfaces every 5 minutes rather than 15 minutes]. 

What are examples of preventable incidents at supermarkets and shopping centres for which I can claim compensation?

Examples of preventable causes of incidents at supermarkets and shopping centres include:

  • workers accidentally hitting patrons with forklifts or pallet jacks or train of shopping trolleys or other items.
  • damaged or defective or not fit for purpose shopping trolleys.
  • improperly positioned or missing floor mats.
  • slippery floors from leaks and spills, such leaking roofs or fridges or freezers or other patrons dropping or spilling slipping substances onto the floor such as loose fresh produce.
  • faulty entrance and exit doors and elevators.
  • items falling from shelves.
  • aisle or walkway obstructions from things like boxes or pallets or other items such as cleaning equipment.
  • cracked and uneven floor surfaces or pavements.
  • defective or improperly constructed premises, such as steps or stairwells not containing handrails or stair nosings
  • inherently slippery floor surfaces due to wear and tear and lack of maintenance or installation of an inappropriate floor surface.
  • unidentified or not highlighted tripping or slipping hazards, such as parking stoppers or other height differentials.
  • inadequate illumination [i.e., lighting].
  • unclear and not well-placed signage to highlight any problem areas or hazards.
  • and many others.

Contact us today, and start with a free consultation by “Make a Booking” to receive our preliminary expert advice. 

Key Contact .

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Jonathan Coyle
Founding Partner
Laura Green
Special Counsel