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PK Simpson Blog

Slip and Fall Accidents and Your Rights

Slip and fall accidents can happen almost anywhere, but more often than not they occur in public places, so if you have suffered an injury there’s every chance that you will be entitled to make a claim for public liability compensation.

There are so many different ways people can be hurt, and many people don’t realise they can claim compensation if the result is an injury. These accidents can vary from slipping on a lettuce leaf (believe it or not, it has happened) on a supermarket floor, to falling over after a slide on spilt liquid for instance – or tripping on something in your home due to improper workmanship.

A wide range of accidents caused by someone’s negligence or fault are covered by public and occupiers liability and they can happen in all kinds of places such as apartment complexes, retail stores and office buildings. No matter where they occur, whoever owns or manages them has a duty of care to the public to make certain to the best of their ability, that people are safe, that the area is clean and well maintained and secure. So many slip and fall claims are made because of haphazard cleaning programs.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident the first thing you must do is to immediately report it to whoever is in charge or whoever owns the building or business, and if it is a local council matter then you must report it to that local government organisation. If possible take photographs of the cause of the accident and any injuries and ask witnesses for their details in case you need them later. Leaving the reporting of the incident even to the next day can harm your chances of compensation.

Get in touch with your personal injury lawyer as soon as possible for advice so you can decide whether or not to pursue a claim. Be aware that there is a time limit in which you can claim compensation for a slip and fall accident, so your lawyer will advise you to get on with your case as soon as possible.

Most personal injury lawyers offer a first consultation at no cost to discuss the strength of your case, if you have one, and whether you ought to go on with it. But to help clarify things before you see a lawyer it’s best to get your information together to take along.

This includes:

  • Clear pictures of the cause of the accident and the conditions of the site.
  • All medical reports on any injuries that you sustained in the accident. Also how your injuries were treated, and if further treatment is necessary.
  • All medical bills and accounts.
  • Proof of loss of earnings.
  • Proof of your dependence on anyone deceased in the accident.
  • All statements by witnesses describing the incident and injuries you sustained.
  • Records of the time, date and location of the accident.

Claiming compensation can be a long and gruelling process so don’t expect a quick fix. You will need to prove that you have a valid claim and that it wasn’t caused by your own negligence (if you were skylarking and fell over a bollard and broke your leg, for instance). Your compensation lawyer can help you with the merits of a claim and whether or not it will stand up in court.

Some of the more common slip and fall accidents include:

  • Falling down stairs due to a lack of handrails or if the steps are broken or inappropriate.
  • Slipping and falling on fluids or food on floors, the ground or walls.
  • Injuries incurred on faulty playground equipment.
  • Slipping on highly polished or slippery floors in a shop.
  • Tripping on ropes, cords or objects left for instance by work crews.
  • Tripping and falling over due to insufficient or no lighting.
  • Tripping on uneven ground on a footpath for instance or a floor.
  • Inadvertent contact with exposed electric wires.

There is a legal requirement for public areas and buildings to make sure the spaces are safe, cleaned regularly and properly maintained, therefore, an injured person has to prove that the manager or the owner of the building is at fault, through either:

  • Failure by the building manager or owner in identifying a potential hazard (be that a crack in a footpath or a hole in a road e.g.) and not rectifying it or not warning the public of the hazard by fencing it off or placing a ‘wet floor hazard’ notice for instance, so people could avoid it.
  • The building manager, or a staff member, directly caused the hazardous circumstances by, for instance, spilling a liquid onto the floor, onto which you walked and slipped.

Complications can arise when trying to work out who exactly is to blame and who to make your claim against. A common case is a person injured after falling at a function held in a locale where the fault could have been a guest’s fault if they dropped a drink and you slipped on it while dancing. It could have been that someone serving food dropped some on the floor and failed to clean it up in time or warn people to steer clear.

It’s always best to discuss these matters with your personal injury lawyer.

You will also have to prove you did not contribute to or cause the accident through negligence, for instance, by talking on your mobile or playing games on it and not taking due care to avoid the hazard, and that you could not reasonably have forestalled the accident yourself.

Public liability compensation is not always an easy road to travel. To clarify some areas and show you what you could be facing, here are some questions you will be asked:

  • Was the hazard that caused your accident in place long enough to have been discovered in a reasonable amount of time and been removed before the accident?
  • In what ways, if any, could the accident have been minimised or prevented?
  • Was poor lighting a cause of the accident?
  • Was the accident the result of failure to maintain and clean the space?

Another thing you will need to prove is whether or not you were complicit in your own mishap. You will have to prove that your own behaviour or state leading up to the accident did not contribute to, or cause the accident it in any way, since the level of your responsibility in preventing the accident can affect your compensation and if your claim will be successful.

If your personal injury lawyer believes your claim is valid you can claim compensation for any loss of earnings, loss of support (in the case of a death), past and future medical costs and material damages. In most cases, slip and fall compensation claims can be settled out of court, without the necessity of attending a hearing.

Some of the more common slip and fall injuries include:

  • Fractured skull
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Back injury
  • Neck  injury
  • Brain bleed
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Internal bleeding
  • Leg (arm) and ankle(wrist) injury
  • Burns
  • Arm and/or hand injury
  • Sprain, torn or damaged ligament
  • Depression, shock, anxiety, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.