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Liability for Slipping Over in Supermarkets

Because of their very nature, supermarkets are places where people slip over a lot.  More often than not, someone will be walking through the aisles, happily looking at the shelves and deciding what to buy and then WHAM! – They slip on a spilt liquid or a fallen product. These types of falls invariably result in individuals injuring their back or neck and frequently entail painful twisting of the knee and/or ankle.

In short, they are unexpected, upsetting and, perhaps most important of all, very painful. Unsurprisingly, many people who have been unjustly injured in this way choose to make a personal injury claim against the supermarket.

Making a Personal Injury Claim

A claim against the owners or occupiers of the supermarket is typically brought under the Occupiers Liability Act.  Whilst there is no strict liability under this Act, a Court will look to the issue of reasonableness and to what extent the supermarket had knowledge of the presence of a hazard. Moreover, the Court will also ascertain how capable the supermarket was of taking steps to ensure the hazard was not able to pose a risk.

While the burden has always been on the Claimant to establish the case in such circumstances; the onus is also on the Defendant to establish that the hazard was not reasonably present or indeed did not pose a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury. Therefore, if a claimant can clearly establish that they slipped over on liquid or on a fallen grape as they were doing their shopping, the burden in respect of liability will shift to the Defendant.

Responsibility

This is of course only fair as the person who slipped over is entirely innocent. After all, they did not voluntarily place themselves in a position where they wanted to slip on a puddle or skid on a loose fruit in the middle of a crowded supermarket.

Quite simply, they are not the ones who are responsible for allowing a puddle or rogue fruit to remain on the floor – the owners or occupiers of the supermarket are.

Therefore, they should not be expected to bear the burden of trying to establish when a container of milk or loose grape fell onto the floor.  Indeed, that burden must shift onto the Defendant, as they are the ones who have a duty to ensure their premises remain reasonably safe to shop in.

Grounds for a Successful Injury Compensation Claim?

So, long as the injured party can establish that they slipped on something which caused them to fall and injure themselves, the burden of liability will shift onto the Defendant.  It is then for the Defendant to establish that they had a system in place to ensure the injured person was kept reasonably safe.

If they cannot establish such a system, then it is only right and proper that they should be found at fault and be made to pay for any suffering which they may have caused.