Supermarket accident claims
For most, a trip to a supermarket is a possibly dull but usually uneventful activity; however, accidents do happen and the resulting injuries can have a nasty effect on someone’s life.
What are the common causes of supermarket accidents?
Injuries can be sustained in a supermarket in a variety of ways, including:
- slipping on a spillage that has not been cleaned up;
- tripping over uncleared rubbish or left out stock;
- being struck by falling goods which have not been stacked properly;
- hurting yourself on badly assembled shelves;
- cutting yourself on sharp objects left lying around;
- falling on untreated icy surfaces in the supermarket car park;
- tripping on uneven flooring.
The range of injuries that can result from such accidents also vary but could include, cuts, bruising, sprains, fractures, head or brain injuries, or spinal damage.
What duty’s does a supermarket have to keep me safe?
The owners or occupiers of a supermarket have a legal duty under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to take reasonable steps to ensure that anyone who uses their premises are as safe as possible.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 meanwhile, make it a legal requirement for employers to carry out regular risk assessments and put measures in place to ensure that any risk these assessments throw up are minimised. Finally, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors be in good condition and free from blockages, to allow visitors to move around safely.
The steps retailers should take to minimise risk of injury include: ensuring that all underfoot surfaces are monitored, maintained and cleaned; all spillages mopped up and warning signs erected until the affected area are dry; all equipment and stock installed properly; and anything used by the public in good working order.
If the retailer fails to adequately carry out this duty of care and you are hurt as a result, it is very likely that they will be found to be negligent and you will be able to make a claim for compensation.
What is the standard used to prove negligence?
The individual who was responsible for your injuries would be found negligent by the courts 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.
Should I report my supermarket accident?
You should report your accident immediately to the store manager or customer service desk. They will usually ask you to fill in an accident report form. If the supermarket doesn’t have such a form, you should ask the manager to formally record the incident in the store’s accident book. You should take a copy of this record to help strengthen your compensation claim.
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 supermarket operator must inform the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about the accident within 10 days.
Your solicitor should be able to get a copy of the report to the HSE as well as any reports written by the HSE itself. These reports will form key evidence to strengthen your claim.
What other evidence should I produce to strengthen my case?
As well as a copy of the accident and HSE reports, there is other evidence that you can collect at the scene of your accident and afterwards to help prove the person responsible for your injury was negligent. This includes:
- names and contact details of any potential witnesses;
- photographs or sketches of the accident scene;
- photographs of your injuries;
- CCTV footage of the event, if available;
- 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, and of those going forward, such as time you need to take off work to recover.
How can a solicitor help?
You are strongly advised to legal advice from a specialist personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your supermarket accident while events are still fresh in the minds of everyone involved and evidence more easily obtainable.
An experienced personal injury solicitor can help you collect the evidence you need to strengthen your case and will also 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. This report will help strengthen your compensation claim.
Your solicitor will ensure all the paperwork required for your claim is in order, will work hard to negotiate you the out-of-court settlement you deserve, but will also be with you every step of the way and represent you if the matter has to go to court.
How can I pay for my claim?
Your personal injury solicitor will ask you some details about your accident and will quickly be able to assess whether or not you have a valid claim. If you do, it is highly likely that they will agree to take your case on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.
This means that if you lose the case, you will pay your solicitor nothing. If you win, your solicitor will charge a ‘success fee’ out of your compensation. This amount will have been agreed before your case begins, but will usually be a relatively small portion of the compensation you receive. One of the benefits of the no win no fee system is that there are no upfront charges or hidden costs involved.
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.