Last week at my local supermarket, whilst browsing through a colourful and interesting array of new fruits that had just arrived, I found myself reeling and the next thing I recall was grabbing onto a side shelf to stop myself from falling and sustaining an injury. I looked down to see what had caused me to slip and noticed that the floor seemed a little wet. Luckily the store wasn’t very busy at the time and I saved myself from a potentially embarrassing moment by avoiding a fall and a potentially serious injury.
As an accident injury lawyer, my immediate instinct was to look around and see whether there were any warning signs out on display. Surprisingly there were none. I immediately alerted the staff to clean up the hazard and thankfully no one was injured as a result of the wet patch. However many people are not as lucky as I was. Many clients of mine have suffered various bodily injuries from sprains to serious fractures of the limbs and back injuries, some with serious debilitating consequences.
Having an accident injury which was caused by slipping on a substance, liquid or item of fruit on a supermarket floor generally gives you grounds to make a claim for compensation. Whilst not every fall results in a compensation payment, here is some advice on what you should be aware of and the pitfalls to be avoided.
Supermarkets today stock a wide variety of products boasting aisles laden with various goods. There are many potential risks for the unsuspecting shopper. Spillages, stray trolleys, unstable shelving and heavy cages are also common hazards for members of the public and staff.
By law, a Supermarket must make sure that anyone who goes into their store is kept reasonably safe. They manage potential hazards by preparing risk assessments. If you have suffered an accident injury, I normally ask the supermarket to show me their risk assessment documents. This how I check if they have taken all proper steps to control those risks in accordance with health and safety law.
When I make an assessment, I try to imagine all the different types of store user including children, adults, persons with disabilities, those using walking aids, the vulnerable and the elderly. I try to put myself in their shoes and view life from their perspective.
There are many risks in a store to consider, some obvious, some not so obvious. For example, mats should be provided at entrances, so in wet or damp weather, people who enter the store aren’t creating a slipping risk for others. If the floor is wet from rain or spillage, there should be clear and visible “caution – wet floor” signs to alert shoppers to the danger. Cleaning schedules should be maintained to show that the floor is kept clean.
Generally, most supermarkets do maintain good records and cleaning schedules. Early access to these after you have suffered an injury is vital to assess whether the accident could have been avoided. The store is very likely to be held responsible if they knew there was a hazard and they did not take suitable steps to stop it from occurring. Early disclosure and photographs are essential to any accident injury claim. Lack of documentary evidence can mean a failed claim.
If you suffer an accident injury – What do you do?
Despite the best of endeavours by a Supermarket store to keep the place safe, when an accident does occur, we recommend the following:
- Remember that above all else, your safety is paramount.
- Take prompt action.
- Staff will be at hand and you should ask for a first aider to help you.
- If the injury is serious, ask the store to call you an ambulance.
- If there is a suspected fracture, head or back injury, do not under any circumstances move.
- If anyone saw the accident, write down their name telephone number and address.
- Take a photograph of where you fell if you can.
- Ask the Store Manager or the member of staff for the Accident report book.
- Follow up with the Supermarket store after the accident and find out if they have sent off the accident injury report to head office.
At Saracens, we have many years of expertise in this area of law and have successfully settled claims where there has been an accident injury at a supermarket.
If you have had an accident injury in a Supermarket or want to share your experience of what happened to you when you fell in a store or injured in any other way write to us here. We will offer you a free consultation and advise you on your rights.
Personal Injury Department