Are Shopping Centres Liable for Customers Who Slip, Trip or Fall?

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Trips, slips and falls are something that can seem very insignificant when they happen, but a small injury can be amplified if that muscle is pulled the wrong way, resulting in an inconvenience in your day to day life as well as potential medical expenses to have the injury treated. And most people don’t realise that due to the law of negligence you can claim for compensation if you are injured by a hazard in a place of business like a shopping mall. Here we explain this concept more in depth and tell you what to do so that you get the compensation you deserve.

All businesses are under what is called a duty of care to make sure their workplace is free from hazards, and a shopping centre is at the top of the list. Centre management must make sure that any areas customers can access is completely free from potential hazards at all times, or that any potential hazards have been properly signposted to warn of a risk. These hazards can be anything from a wet slippery floor, uneven surface, frayed carpets, unattended dangerous wires, broken escalators, or even poor lighting. Those in charge are under a duty to eliminate, isolate, and minimise these hazards so that they do not cause you harm.

Unfortunately, this duty is constantly ignored by multiple shopping malls around the country, which is why slips, trips and falls number in the thousands and are a leading cause of injuries each year.

According to this duty of care, if a person is injured in a business or shopping area which the centre management has failed to take reasonable care to reduce the risk, then that person may be entitled to a form of compensation. The term reasonable care means that an effort has been made to protect customers from a hazard, for example cordoning off a wet floor or signposting it, covering electrical circuits with plastic/some other material, putting ‘Staff Only’ signs on doors behind which are hazards. The term reasonable care is a point of contention most of the time, and so it’s best to consult with an expert in legal compensation matters to determine if it was employed in your case.

Although it may seem insignificant at the time you do slip, trip or fall due to a hazard at a shopping centre, you may sustained an injury that won’t be felt for a few hours or even until the next day. Musculoskeletal injuries such as pulled muscles or sprains, cuts and bruises, fractures and dislocations are all common injuries sustained due to a slip, trip or fall, and in an extreme case these injuries could result in you having to take time off work or to seek medical treatment, which all costs you money. If you do wish to seek compensation for these injuries, it’s important that you seek legal advice as soon after the injury as possible.

What to do when filing for compensation

The first thing to do if you have slipped over or fallen over is to seek any medical attention you may need, but if it is only a minor injury – which most of these are – then you must be proactive in getting information about how the slip happened. It is recommended that at this time you take images of the whole area where you were injured, as well as close-ups on any hazards that caused your slip, trip or fall. This is because it’s easier for a judge to clearly see what has happened with photos if your case does end up going to court.

Another good way to get information is to get the contact details of anyone that may have seen you fall. Although this may seem over the top and can be embarrassing, it could be the difference between you getting compensation and not. Even if this witness is only a security guard, it is positive information to help your claim.

When documenting these claims its best you leave nothing to be presumed or inferred about exactly what happened, which has proven to be a fatal flaw in cases previously. For example, an Australian court overturned a ruling of compensation where a woman slipped in a Coles supermarket and injured her back. The original case had been won by the injured woman because she had pictures of cardboard on which she could possibly have slipped, but on appeal a new judge ruled that the Trial Judge was wrong for inferring that the cardboard on the floor was the immediate cause of the injury. The final conclusion was that more evidence was needed.

In cases of compensation the onus is on the plaintiff to prove a negligence of care, so any evidence you collect to prove this negligence can help. Even if you need to go back the next day once you know how painful your injury is, take photos then as it’s better than nothing and the hazard may even still be there.

If you have been injured in a shopping centre due to a hazard for which reasonable care had not been taken by the owner/centre management, you may be entitled to compensation for any injuries you sustained. It’s important to note that there is a statute of limitations that applies to all civil litigation matters, so the sooner you begin legal proceedings the more likely you are to have a case.

Contact one of Compensation Connection’s expert compensation lawyers today if you believe you are entitled to restitution for an injury you have sustained at a shopping centre, and we’ll discuss your case with you.

Posted in Workers Compensation Lawyers
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