Can you claim compensation if you’re injured in a supermarket?

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Direct2Compensation have represented a number of claimants who have had the unfortunate and embarrassing experience of suffering a very public accident in a busy supermarket. This kind of claim usually revolves around a busy mum who has to endure the weekly assault course which is the grocery shop. The typical claim is for a slip due to either a wet floor or spilt food on the floor with no hazard warning sign. Usually it results in soft tissue injuries, back pain or occasional bone fractures.

So, you’ve slipped on an unmarked wet floor or spillage of ketchup, mayonnaise or squashed fruit and there was no hazard warning sign erected. You’ve been injured and completed an accident book entry with the store in question. But can you claim compensation?

Making a successful claim

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 and that any hazards were marked.

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? 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.

However, sometimes hazards can be in situ for long times – like leaky freezer units or leaky buckets on the flower display area. Simply erecting a hazard sign and then leaving the area alone is often not sufficient to defend a claim. Also, 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.

Whatever the type of accident and its cause, you should always report it to a staff member and ensure that an accurate version of events is entered in an accident book – make sure you request to sign it personally. Then make sure you get medical treatment from your GP or at Hospital before contacting us regarding a claim.

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