• Most slips and trips in supermarkets often just result in a bruising to the ego and the supermarket offers flowers or extra reward points. However, some accidents can cause serious injury.

    By law under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 supermarkets owe a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure visitors to their store are reasonably safe.

    This does not mean that supermarkets can be expected to avoid all accidents, but it does mean they have to take reasonable steps to prevent accidents happening. Some accidents are just that; accidents which cannot be avoided and for which there is no liability.

    Other accidents are foreseeable and avoidable. It is entirely predictable that if customers pick up unsecured items like grapes, they can easily end up on the floor, causing a slipping hazard. Therefore, many supermarkets now ensure such loose produce is packaged more securely, to prevent spillages. A failure to do so could be considered negligent.

    Brachers recently acted for a woman who suffered disabling injuries due to water leaking out of a freezer unit, a hazard that could and should have been prevented. After investigations, liability was admitted and the claimant received considerable compensation.

    Brachers also successfully pursued a claim for an individual who slipped and fell on cable ties. These were left in the aisle by staff members, having unwrapped boxed products and failed to clear them all away.

    Unfortunately, many accidents in supermarkets are caused by debris dropped by other customers. It would be impossible for a supermarket to prevent all such tripping/slipping accidents. However, they must take reasonable steps. The claimant would need to show the supermarket had failed to institute a reasonable system of inspection or failed to carry out any cleaning required following inspections.

    Accidents in supermarkets are not restricted to customers and we have acted for members of staff who have been injured whilst lifting heavy boxes without appropriate lifting equipment or from tripping over objects left unsuitably in the aisles by their colleagues.

    What should you do if you have an injury accident in a supermarket?

    First, ensure the accident is reported to a member of staff and fully recorded, including details of any witnesses. Second, the store should be asked whether there is any CCTV footage of the incident available, in which case they should be asked to retain it. Third, you should seek medical attention, not only to obtain appropriate treatment, but also to ensure that the injuries suffered are recorded in your medical records. Fourth, keep any receipts for any expenses, such as prescription charges, taxi fares and other losses are kept. Finally, legal advice should be sought once the nature of any injury is known.

    Natalie is an Associate in the Personal Injury team, if you have an accident in a shop or supermarket please contact her on 01622 680430 for a free consultation.

    Can we help?

    Take a look at our Personal Injury and Industrial Disease page for useful information, resources, guidance, details of our team and how we may be able to help you

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