I’ve had an accident in a shop, can I sue for compensation?

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Our injury lawyers are experts in claiming compensation on behalf of people injured in shops, supermarkets and shopping malls. We operate a free accident helpline on 0808 139 1606. So if you have had an accident in a shop then give us a call.

Accidents in supermarkets, shops and shopping malls are very common. The typical scenario is the customer who slips on a spillage on the floor or who trips over. People often assume that the shop is automatically liable to compensate the customer for the resulting injury is also common, but as with so much in law, it’s not that straightforward. If someone has an accident in a shop it doesn’t necessarily mean they can sue for compensation. This is why it is important to seek help from a specialist firm of solicitors.

Broadly speaking, the shop owner or shopping centre has a duty under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 to take all “reasonable” steps to make sure that the premises are “reasonably safe” for everyone who is invited to use them. This includes not just shoppers or those who are looking around the shop, but also people who are delivering goods or even popping in to ask the staff for directions.

The crucial word (as so often in legal claims) is “reasonable”. In other words, the shop owner does not have to ensure the premises are pristine; they don’t have to ensure that there is never any hazard of any kind in the shop; they aren’t required to have an army of staff posted in every aisle ready to respond instantly to any spillage. They only have to do what is “reasonable”.

In practice, this means that provided the shop has a reasonable system of regular inspection and cleaning and that the staff follow it (and can prove they did) then the unlucky customer who nevertheless slips on the stray grape or leaking water is unlikely to have a valid legal claim.

However, never assume that just because the shop belongs to a big household-name chain, they will be bullet-proof. It is by no means unknown for large supermarkets to have detailed procedures written down in a manual sitting on an office shelf somewhere collecting dust, but be unable to prove at shop-floor level that the local staff actually followed them. See those checklists posted in the loos at Sainsbury’s, MacDonalds; are they always up to date? Do they always have someone’s signature on them every hour as they state?

A specialist solicitor will know this and will invite the shop to disclose its paperwork to demonstrate that their procedures have been dutifully followed. It is surprising just how often stores are unable to show that they have complied, which means the solicitor can then press home the advantage, inviting the shop to concede liability and agree to pay the injured customer compensation.

Other accident scenarios may be easier to succeed on. If you are injured by a broken shop fitting for instance, it is usually more difficult for the owner to show that a proper system has been followed. Such defects are likely to have been present longer than a spillage and should have been fixed long before your accident.

If you have an accident in a shop, supermarket or shopping mall we would recommend that:

  • you tell the manager about your accident and insist he or she makes a written record. Sign it and get a copy if you can;
  • you get names and addresses of anyone who saw your accident, whether they are other shoppers or members of staff; witnesses can be vital to successfully making a personal injury claim;
  • you identify what caused your accident; get a photo if you can;
  • you note whether there were any warning signs nearby;

If you cannot do all this yourself, get someone else to do it for you. As a last resort, get them to go back to the shop as soon as possible and do it.

Finally, if you have had an accident in a shop then speak to a specialist solicitor as soon as you can. Our specialist solicitors have many years of experience dealing with this type of personal injury claim and we can give you free initial advice about making a claim for compensation. And don’t forget, we deal with accident claims on a No Win – No Fee basis, guaranteeing that the client receives 100% of their compensation.

Call our free accident helpline on 0808 139 1606 or email us at [email protected]