We have represented a number of claimants who have had the unfortunate and embarrassing experience of suffering a very public accident in a busy supermarket. The typical claim is for a slip on the shop floor or a trip over objects, resulting in soft tissue injuries, back pain and occasional bone fractures.
A successful claim is not quite as simple as just having an accident, reporting it and getting medical treatment. A claimant needs to prove that the supermarket was negligent and that in this case, it failed to ensure the premises were safe for customers.
Hazard warning signs
Any hazards should be clearly marked with a warning sign. Just because a hazard is present does not mean it is at fault, but if it is, and there was no hazard sign erected, you are likely to have a valid claim for compensation. The 3rd party could be seen as liable for your injuries by failing to provide a warning of a foreseeable risk to your safety.
However, even if a hazard sign is present you may still be able to make a successful claim. For example, the supermarket has a leaking freezer unit in their store. The floor gets wet and they call out an engineer. If they erect the yellow sign, they’ve covered themselves. But if they just erected a sign and didn’t bother calling the engineer and left the unit leaking for weeks and weeks, the sign would become redundant and they would still be liable for not removing a known hazard in a reasonable time frame.
Liability in supermarket accidents
Let’s be fair, a customer can easily drop an egg, knock a bottle from a shelf and spill some liquid on the floor. They don’t always report it to a staff member and often just walk off. The next customer could come round the corner within seconds and slip on the spillage and be injured. Would it then be fair for the Supermarket to be liable and mean you have a valid claim for the slip? Probably not, they have large premises to monitor and can’t be expected to see every spillage as it happens and have a hazard warning sign erected instantly.
When defending a claim, if the supermarket can show that they have taken every precaution to properly monitor their store by way of a cleaning and inspection regime, the courts often find in favour of the supermarket. For example, Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and the other main chains usually have a 30-minute cleaning regime in place. This is where a worker inspects the floors of the aisles every 30 minutes for hazards, spillages and other cleaning work. They should then erect a sign if any hazards are found before instructing a cleaner to remove the hazard. They will then sign an inspection report. This gives them adequate time to manage their often very large floor space and demonstrates that they have taken every care.
It is however, pretty easy for such reports to be forged or signed off without an inspection having taken place. Conversely, it is often pretty easy to prove that the store didn’t follow a strict 30 minute cleaning regime due to it being busy, under-staffed or forgotten.
What to do if you have been injured in a supermarket
- Report the incident. Make sure that you report your accident at the earliest opportunity to a staff member and ensure that an accurate version of events is entered in an accident book. Make sure you note the cause of your injury and any lack of hazard warning signs etc. Though it is best to do so, you don’t have to report it immediately – many people are shocked and/or embarrassed and just want to get out of the shop. It’s perfectly reasonable to report it later.
- Witness details. If anyone helps you because you have been injured in a supermarket, please get their name and contact number if you can. This will greatly help your claim and provide additional evidence to support it.
- Photographic evidence. We realise that this might not be possible. If you are in serious immediate pain and discomfort, you’re unlikely to be thinking about taking a photograph of a wet floor or other hazard. However, if you can take a photo or two, it may be really useful in forcing the 3rd party to admit liability.
- Medical treatment. Make sure that you see your GP, or attend A&E at the earliest opportunity. As soon as you are aware of any injury that is not simply a minor bruise, you should seek medical attention. To have the best chance of succeeding with a claim, it is important to be able to provide medical evidence.
- Expenses. Keep a record of any expenses you incur as a result of injuries. If you have receipts for costs such as prescriptions, taxi fares, parking, care or any other cost you have incurred, you may be able to claim those back. If you are unable to work because of your injuries and do not receive sickness pay, you may well be able to reclaim any lost income alongside a settlement to cover the pain and discomfort caused by your injuries.
Making a successful supermarket accident claim
These are the main criteria you need to check to see if you can claim:
- Was the accident the supermarket’s fault?
- Did you report the accident and your injuries?
- Have you sought medical treatment from your GP or hospital?
- If not, are your injuries still presenting symptoms that your GP can diagnose?
If you haven’t done any of this already, don’t worry, we can help. To see if you can claim after your supermarket accident, please call our team on 01225 430285, or if you prefer, we can call you back.