Supermarket and Shop Accidents

For most people, shopping is an uneventful and safe activity; but for an unlucky few, a visit to a supermarket or shopping centre ends up with them being involved in an accident.

Unfortunately, what may at first appear to be minor accidents often lead to serious injuries for the customer or staff member involved. Slips, trips and being struck by items falling from shelves can result in cuts, bruising, sprains, concussion, ligament damage or broken bones.

While some accidents in supermarkets were genuinely unavoidable, most could have been prevented had proper safety and cleaning procedures been in place. If you were injured in an accident that you believe was the result of the store owner’s negligence, you may be able to claim compensation.

Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, retailers have a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure their premises are safe for customers and staff. Should they fail in this duty of care and you are injured as a result, you are likely to have a strong claim for compensation.

Liddy’s Solicitors has extensive experience of personal injury claims relating to accidents in shops and has helped clients to secure damages from supermarket chains including Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, so is ideally placed to advise on your case.

Causes of supermarket and shop accidents

Supermarkets and shopping centres are busy workplaces and, although reputable retailers take great care to ensure they are as safe as possible for both customers and staff, accidents do happen. Many of them were avoidable, if the correct  safety procedures had been followed.

The most common causes of accidents leading to injuries in retail premises are:

Slip hazards, such as damp floors after cleaning, product spills, leaking packaging or entrances that have water traipsed in from outside when it is raining. While shops cannot always prevent these things happening, they should have a cleaning system in place and a way to warn customers and staff of the danger posed by the slippery surface.

Trip hazards, such as boxes, stock cages and products left in the aisles. Supermarkets have to restock the shelves during opening hours, but leaving items unattended in the aisles while that happens is a clear risk to the safety of shoppers.

Falling objects, such as tins dropping off shelves or unstable merchandising displays.  Shelving and displays that were not properly assembled pose a risk to customers and staff, as do badly or over-stacked shelves (particularly high shelves), and retailers have a responsibility to ensure these problems are avoided.

Unsafe facilities or equipment. This is more of a problem for staff, particularly those who work in store rooms, but issues such as poorly maintained changing rooms and toilets, defective escalators and stairs can results in injuries to shoppers. Retailers have a responsibility to ensure that all facilities are in a safe condition for use.

Can I claim compensation for injuries suffered in a supermarket accident?

Whether or not you have a strong claim for compensation for your injuries will depend on the circumstances of your accident. For a claim to succeed, you will need to demonstrate that the supermarket or shopping centre owner did not take reasonable care to ensure the safety of customers and staff. To successfully defend a claim the retailer would have to show it had devised suitable cleaning and safety systems, and that staff had followed the procedures.

For example, a large supermarket branch needs to have a regular inspection system in place to ensure staff spot spillages and things that have been left in the aisles, put out warning signs to alert customers to the risks and clean up any hazard as soon as possible. However, it is not realistic to think that supermarket workers can be aware of and clean up every spillage the second it happens.

One of Liddy’s specialist personal injury solicitors will be able to help you establish whether you have a strong claim for compensation. Your solicitor will obtain all the relevant paperwork from the retailer in question in order to assess whether or not they can demonstrate they have the right systems in place and that the procedures were being followed at the time of the accident.

If the supermarket or shop is unable to show it met its legal duty of care towards its customers and that its staff had implemented procedures correctly, you are likely to have a very good chance of securing compensation for your injury. Once it has been established that the retailer was negligent in some way, the process of persuading it to admit liability and negotiate a settlement can progress.

A mistake that people often make is to assume that major supermarket and department store chains have perfect inspection and cleaning systems, and that no claim against them can succeed. However, that is not always the case and many people – including some represented by Liddy’s – have secured damages for injuries suffered in their premises.

How to make a supermarket accident compensation claim

One of Liddy’s specialist personal injury solicitors will be able to guide you through every step of the claim process, from initial consultation to negotiating the final amount of damages. However, there are some steps you need to take as soon as possible after your accident.

You must report the incident to staff and ask for the details to be recorded in the store’s accident book. It is also important that when you receive medical attention for your injuries, you inform the hospital staff or your GP of what happened and where the incident occurred so that a record of it exists.

You should also keep receipts for any expenses you believe you have incurred as a result of the accident, such as travelling to medical appointments and the cost of treatment. If you need to take time off work and suffer a loss of earnings, you should keep a record of it.

Once you seek advice from one of our personal injury experts, they will make contact with the retailer to obtain copies of the relevant documentation, handle all the claim paperwork and ensure you are assessed by medical specialists and receive the best possible treatment. They will also help you to secure the level of compensation to which you are entitled, taking into account your pain and injuries, the cost of treatment, travel expenses and loss of earnings.

Our solicitors understand that if you are unfamiliar with the law, you may find making a claim for damages a daunting prospect. We will do everything we can to make the process as simple and stress-free for you as possible, including keeping you informed of progress at every stage and explaining everything in clear language rather than legal jargon.

For an initial no-obligation discussion about your accident claim, please fill in the ‘How Can We Help You?’ form, call us at our Wakefield office on 01924 780753 or contact our Barnsley office on 01226 731314.