Slip and Fall Compensation Claims

Slips and falls in public locations, such as supermarkets, are all too prevalent and can cause catastrophic injuries. If you have been injured in a slip, trip, or fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and loss of earnings. Read on to understand your rights.

Slip and Fall Compensation Claims Across Melbourne Victoria by Arnold Dallas McPherson Injury Lawyers
Supermarkets are a common public place where many slip and fall accidents occur.

In the immediate aftermath of a slip-and-fall accident, shock and adrenaline can sometimes make it hard to remember what to do next. 

If you find yourself in the unfortunate event of a slip-and-fall accident, then this guide will hopefully help you manage the situation effectively, ensure a smoother path towards resolution, and spell out a few legal implications you may need to be aware of. 

Key points to know

  • You have three years from the date of injury to commence a compensation claim. We strongly recommend you contact a lawyer well before this time.
  • It is important to record as many details as possible about the incident.
  • Seek medical treatment as soon as possible. 
Quick Links

What is slip and fall accident?

A ‘slip and fall’ claim is a type of public liability claim that can be made if you are injured in a slip or fall accident where circumstances are that someone else is at fault.

Claims of this nature are commonly made against supermarkets and local councils, but can also arise in many different situations. They are governed by the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic).

Common places where slip and fall accidents occur

  • Shops and supermarkets (e.g. Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, and Westfield shopping centres)
  • Hospitals
  • Cafes, restaurants and bars
  • Fast food chains (e.g. McDonalds, Hungry Jack’s, KFC)
  • Sport and recreation facilities including gyms, pools, and water parks
  • On airlines and cruise ships
  • Public buildings and office buildings
  • Rental Properties

Coles and Woolworths injury claims are quite common in Australia, along with other supermarkets including Aldi and IGA. All supermarkets in Australia have a duty of care towards shoppers and staff. This means they have to take reasonable steps to prevent injuries from hazards.

Common types of injuries seen in slip, trip and fall cases

Hazards that contribute to slip and fall injuriesInjuries that arise from slip and fall cases
  • Cleaning up food spills, like dropped grapes, promptly
  • Mopping up liquid spills as soon as they happen
  • Spilled sugar and other liquids
  • Dropped lettuce leaves
  • Discarded boxes near the self-bagging counter
  • Ice from freezer products
  • Clearing up litter and debris, especially broken glass
  • Placing non-slip mats in areas where slip hazards are likely
  • Placing signage down to warn of hazards such as freshly mopped floors
  • Ensuring the supermarket is well-lit
  • Being hit by a trolley or stocking carts
  • Faulty automatic exit doors, or gates
  • Injuries from vehicles in car parks
  • Escalator, travelator, or lift injuries
  • Tripping on floor mats that have been misplaced
  • Items falling from shelves
  • Head injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Sprains and fractures
  • Shoulder, hip and back injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD
  • Concussion

Steps to take if you've been injured in a slip, trip or fall accident

Step 1 — Seek medical treatment for your injuries

We encourage you to seek medical treatment at your GP or nearest hospital, regardless of the severity of your injuries. 

Call emergency services on 000 if urgent medical treatment is needed or if you require services at the accident scene.

We also advise that you keep records of all receipts for any treatments you’re receiving, as they may be required at a later date during your claims process.

Information to collect from your medical provider:

Treating providerInformation to collect
Ambulance Victoria ParamedicYou can be treated at the scene of the accident.
Hospital

You may have needed to be taken to hospital after an accident.

You may obtain a Hospital Discharge Summary.

GP (General Practitioner)For minor injuries, you can see your local GP for diagnosis of your injuries. It is important to ask for a Certificate of Capacity from your local GP about your injuries, especially if you are unable to work or require light duties at work.
Allied Health ProfessionalYou may need to see a physiotherapist, chiropractor or a psychologist as a result of pain or trauma from your injuries. Keep records of receipts paid to any allied health professionals who treated you for your injuries.

Step 2 — Record details of the accident

Record details of the accident, including the contact information of any witnesses.

The information you need to gather includes:

  • Contact details of witnesses.
  • Other evidence pertaining to how the accident happened, such as photographs. 
  • Record of any medical treatment that you needed.  
  • If you have missed work, evidence of your lost earnings, such as payslips.
  • Receipts for any other out of pocket expenses. 

Step 3 — Report the accident

Report the accident to the owner of the premises/business owner.

Step 4 — Seek legal advice

Seek legal advice about how to lodge a claim for compensation.

You have three years from the date of injury to commence a common law claim.

If the symptoms of your injury are persisting, or you have lost income as a result of the injury, we recommend you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

The information that you will need to provide to your lawyer includes:

  • The information gathered above at step 2
  • Contact details of your treaters, such as your GP, surgeon, and/or physiotherapist.  
  • If you have lodged an insurance claim already, your claim number.

Step 5 — Lodge a claim

When you seek legal advice, your lawyer will guide you as to the evidence that will be needed in your specific circumstances in order to lodge a claim, if appropriate.

The usual materials include: 

  • Evidence of lost earnings. 
  • Photographs of the accident site. 
  • Witness statements from anyone who observed the accident. 
  • Statements from friends and family who can attest to how the accident has impacted your life. 
  • Medical evidence outlining the extent of injuries. Your lawyer will assist in obtaining this information.

What can you claim against in a slip and fall case?

  • Lost income
  • Medical expenses
  • Travel expenses, domestic assistance
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent impairment
  • Future losses
  • Home modification
no win no fee personal injury lawyers in melbourne victoria

Arnold Dallas McPherson offers a first free consultation to those involved in slip, trip and fall accidents. We are experienced in all types of claims and can advise quickly whether further compensation may be claimed based on your circumstances and assist you to obtain the best outcome in your case.

FAQs

The first thing you should do is let the supermarket know about your accident. From here, you should contact a Public Liability Lawyer to discuss your options.

Victorian law establishes that a duty of care is owed by the occupier or a business premises to do what is reasonably necessary to prevent harm to visitors.

If you are injured in a supermarket, you may have a right to seek compensation on this basis. However, it is important to understand that such claims are not based only on the fact that an accident occurred. You must show that you have suffered loss, and that the supermarket was negligent in some way. 

In summary, your right to compensation will depend on: 

  • Whether your injury was a result of any negligence on the part of the supermarket. 
  • Whether the supermarket did all that was reasonable to prevent the likelihood of your injury occurring. 
  • Any insurance cover that the supermarket has in place. 
  • The extent of your injuries and the progress of your recovery.
  • Whether you contributed to your injury in any way.

Ref: Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) s 14B

You may be able to ‘sue’ the supermarket, or in other words, pursue a common law action for damages, depending on the factors set out above. Pursuing such a claim would usually occur much later in the claim process, once your injury is deemed to be ‘stable’.

This happens approximately 12 months after the accident, but this can vary depending on the nature of your injury.

Compensation is calculated by taking into account a range of factors, including matters such as how the accident has impacted: 

  • Your engagement with your hobbies.
  • Your ability to care for children. 
  • Your domestic capacity. 
  • Your relationships with family and friends.
  • Your mood.

Common law actions for injuries that occur in a public place, such as a supermarket, are subject to the strict statutory limitation of three years from the date of injury to commencing legal proceedings.

When you seek legal advice, your lawyer will guide you as to the evidence that will be needed in your specific circumstances.

The usual materials include: 

  • Evidence of lost earnings. 
  • Photographs of the accident site. 
  • Witness statements from anyone who observed the accident. 
  • Statements from friends and family who can attest to how the accident has impacted your life. 
  • Medical evidence outlining the extent of injuries. Your lawyer will assist in obtaining this information.

Ultimately, to ensure the best chance of success, you should seek advice from a public liability lawyer. They will help you to collate the appropriate evidence and represent you every step of the way. 

If you were working at the time you were injured, you should consider lodging a WorkCover claim.

You will not necessarily need to go to Court to pursue a slip-and-fall claim. In fact, most cases settle outside of Court by way of alternative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation. 

Your lawyer will represent you and engage in negotiations throughout this process without going to Court.

Claims can be impacted by an array of factors, both concernings the severity of your injury and the extent of the negligence on the part of the Defendant.

Common reasons for a claim being unsuccessful include: 

  • Contributory negligence on the part of the claimant; that is, if the person trying to claim compensation was partially responsible for the injury themselves. 
  • Lack of evidence. 
  • Lack of negligence on the part of the Defendant. 
  • The injury being unstable at the time of the claim. 
  • The injury not being severe enough to give rise to an entitlement to compensation. 

Ref: https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/coles-shopper-loses-battle-for-compensation-after-slipping-on-lettuce/news-story/ef64a519643e1ba404c530a3aa4bf875

The process for filing a public liability claim may vary from case to case. See ‘Have you been injured in a public place?’.

When it comes to preventing injury, businesses are bound by the usual rules of negligence. 

They owe a ‘duty of care’ to people who visit their premises. In short, this means that they must take measures to prevent foreseeable injuries. What measures are considered reasonable can vary significantly from case to case, but can include: 

  • Warning signs where there could be a risk of tripping or slipping. 
  • Ensuring walkways are well lit. 
  • Cleaning up spills. 
  • Closing off walkways that are unsafe. 
  • Keeping flooring/steps in a state of reasonable repair. 

Depending on the premises or business, other guidelines may be applicable. If they haven’t been complied with, this can contribute to a finding that there has been negligence in the circumstances. 

Safe Work Australia guideline for businesses
https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/safety-topic/hazards/slips-trips-and-falls

Strong v Woolworths 
One of the most famous examples of a successful slip and fall claim is Strong v Woolworths. In this case, the claimant was walking with the aid of crutches, and slipped on a greasy chip that was on the ground at a Woolworths Supermarket.
See a summary of the judgment here:
https://www.hcourt.gov.au/assets/publications/judgment-summaries/2012/hca5_2012_03_07.pdf

Buljat v Coles Supermarkets 
A more recent decision is Buljat, where the Plaintiff was injured after slipping on a grape in Coles. The Plaintiff was successful on appeal, where the Court ruled that Coles should have been cleaning the area more frequently.
You can read the appeal decision here:
Buljat v Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd (No 2) [2023] ACTCA 12 – BarNet Jade – BarNet Jade

When you contact Arnold Dallas McPherson, you will be transferred to a member of our new client intake team. Here, they will ask you some questions about the nature of your injury and how it happened, and collect some contact details. This will then be sent to the Partners of our firm to review whether we can assist. 

If you are taken on as a client, your matter will be allocated to a lawyer who will get in touch with you and organise an appointment. 

  • Building a strong case
  • Finding the correct defendant/party(ies) to sue
  • Establishing contact with the other party(ies) and negotiating skilfully
  • Advising you on whether to accept a slip and fall injury settlement or take your case to trial
  • Maximising your compensation with the correct evidence and expert reports
  • Drafting legal documents
  • Communication with medical professionals and other experts
  • Obtaining statements from witnesses
  • Communication with insurers and opposing legal teams

Conclusion

If you have been involved in a slip, trip and fall accident, here is a quick checklist to help:

Legal Costs

Legal costs can be expensive, but we will do all we can to help. What we can do includes:

  • Free first interview
  •  No charges until you win (in approved cases). Please discuss what this means at our first interview.
  • Paying for medical reports, Court fees, and other expenses (in approved cases).

We will discuss costs in detail with you at our first interview. We will always answer your questions about costs. We will clearly advise you of the total costs when you come to settle your claim, and pride ourselves on being able to be clear as to what you will receive in hand, after payment of costs, before you settle your case.

We're the legal firm that's there for you

Making a claim can be stressful and confusing. If you or a loved one has been involved in a slip and fall accident, do not hesitate to reach out to Arnold Dallas McPherson Injury Lawyers. Our dedicated team is ready to provide you with a free initial consultation to assess your case and discuss your legal options. Let us take the burden off your shoulders and champion your rights while you focus on your recovery.

We provide services on a No Win, No Fee basis and have helped injured Victorians obtain compensation for almost 30 years. If you have been injured in a public transport accident, our experienced lawyers at Arnold Dallas McPherson can guide you through this process, providing you with expert advice and assistance.

ADM Public Liability Information Guide

Public Liability Information Guide

Download a PDF copy of our full information guide to help you navigate what to do after an injury.

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