Shop accident claims
Shops are generally regarded as relatively safe places; however, accidents can happen anywhere and if you were hurt in a shop accident that isn’t your fault you have every right to claim compensation.
What are the common causes of shop accidents?
Accidents in stores can occur in a number of ways but some of the most common causes include:
- slips on wet floors or spillages;
- items such as boxes, stock and packaging, left lying around;
- objects falling from poorly stacked shelves;
- falling display items or mannequins;
- loose carpeting or uneven flooring;
- slippery or eroded steps;
- faulty escalators;
- inadequate lighting.
Such accidents can lead to a variety of injuries – from minor cuts, bruises, lacerations or sprains, to more serious harm such as broken or fractured bones, head injuries, or spinal damage.
No matter how your injuries were sustained, if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you are likely to have a valid compensation claim.
Who do I sue?
Those who own or manage shops have a legal duty under health & safety laws such as the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 to take reasonable steps to ensure that customers are as safe as possible while they shop.
This would involve:
- ensuring that all fixtures, fittings and equipment used by customers are regularly checked to ensure they are safe;
- carrying out regular risk assessments of the premises and minimising any risks identified;
- recognising that children may be less careful than adults so ensuring the environment is safe for them too;
- not leaving blockages in the aisles;
- ensuring shelves are put up correctly and stocked safely;
- cleaning up any spillages as soon as possible and erecting warning signs until the affected area dries;
- training staff to ensure they can carry out their health & safety obligations properly.
If any of these health & safety obligations are breached, you would bring a claim against the shop’s owner or occupier – whoever negligently failed to ensure that you and other customers were kept safe.
The person who was responsible for your injuries would be found negligent if their actions had failed to meet the standard of what the ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would do in a similar scenario.
What evidence do I need to bring a shop accident claim?
It is important to gather as much evidence at the scene of your accident which will allow you personal injury lawyer to build as strong a case as possible. This would include:
- reporting your accident to the store manager or customer service desk and taking a copy of the accident report form;
- making a note of the names and contact details of any potential witnesses;
- taking photographs or sketches of the accident scene;
- taking photographs of your injuries;
- collecting any available CCTV footage of the event.
Evidence that can be gathered later on to strengthen your case includes:
- a written account of the accident and how your injuries have affected you, mentally, physically and financially;
- records of any medical treatment you had received after the accident;
- details of any expenses which have arisen from your injury, such as lost earnings if you need to take time off work to recover.
Does the supermarket have to report the accident to anyone?
If your accident is more than a minor one, for example, if you require hospital treatment, the shop operator must inform the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about the accident within 10 days. Your solicitor should be able to obtain a copy of the report to the HSE as well as any reports written by the HSE itself to further strengthen your claim.
How long do I have to bring a claim?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, you usually have three years after your accident (or three years from the date you knew the shop’s negligence caused your injury) to start a shop accident claim. After three years, you can be ‘time-barred’ and may not be able to claim compensation.
If you’re claiming on behalf of a child, you have until they reach the age of 18. If you’re claiming on behalf of someone who isn’t mentally capable of doing so, this three-year period does not start until they have regained their mental capacity.
How can a solicitor help?
It’s a good idea to seek legal advice from a specialist personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your shop accident while events are still fresh in the minds of everyone involved and evidence more readily available.
An experienced solicitor can quickly assess whether you have a valid claim and if you do, they should take your case on a no-win no-fee basis, meaning if you lose your case, you pay the solicitor nothing. There are no upfront costs and you will only pay a ‘success fee’ out of your compensation (usually 25 per cent) if you win.
Your solicitor will help you gather the evidence you need to win your case and arrange for you to be examined by a medical expert who will produce an official report outlining the cause of your injury and the effect it has had on your life.
They will also make sure all the paperwork required for your claim is in order, will strive to negotiate you the out-of-court settlement you deserve, but will also be with you all the way if your case has to go to court.
How much compensation will I receive?
The compensation you receive depends on how serious your injury is, how long it takes you to recover and how it has affected your life, but could include damages for:
- pain and suffering, both mental and physical;
- loss of earnings if you have to take time off work to recover;
- additional medical treatment or rehabilitation;
- out-of-pocket expenses, such a travel costs to the hospital;
- any adaptations required to your home or vehicle.