If you have had a fall in a public place, you may feel helpless to make a claim for compensation, however, depending on the circumstances someone may be responsible for your accident, and you may be able to recover the losses you’ve incurred as a result of your injury.
So, what are your rights and how should you go about making a claim for compensation after a slip and fall accident?
Where do slip and fall accidents typically take place?
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, but they most frequently occur at public venues, including:
- Supermarkets and shopping centres;
- Cafes, restaurants, bars, and other dining or drink establishments; and
- Gyms and recreations facilities, like public pools.
When and to whom should you report a slip and fall injury?
You have up to three years from the date of the accident to make a claim after a slip and fall injury, however, the sooner you report the injury the easier it will be to make a claim. In Queensland, you usually have up to nine months to notify the defendant (the party you will be bringing the claim against) of your intentions.
You should report the accident as soon as possible to the party responsible for the location of the accident. For example, if the accident takes place in a supermarket, you should alert the manager immediately. You may also have someone report your injury on your behalf if you are unable to because you are seeking treatment after the accident.
You should seek medical attention as soon as practicable after the accident, even if your injury does not seem too severe. In some cases, an injury can worsen over time, so it is prudent to have a medical professional see to it and record their notes so they can provide evidence about how the condition has impacted you after the accident.
If there were witnesses to the accident, you should ask them for their name and contact details and take photos of the area where the accident occurred, taking note of any hazards or liquid spills that may have contributed to the accident.
What do I need to prove to win a slip and fall claim?
The key components that will help you to make a successful claim for compensation include:
- whether the injuries caused you to suffer financial loss;
- whether you were owed a duty of care by the owner or manager of the location where the accident took place; and
- whether the injuries were caused by negligence on the part of that owner or manager. If this is the case, you will need to be able to prove that they knew a dangerous situation had arisen, but they did not take action to rectify it within a reasonable amount of time.
How will I know if negligence caused the slip and fall accident?
If you are in a public place you are owed a duty of care by someone like the landlord or building manager. Let’s say you are visiting a supermarket, the store manager has the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the shoppers and ensuring they will not be injured by neglecting to wipe up spills or remove slip and trip hazards such as dropped items or stock in pathways. If a store manager breaches their duty, they may be found responsible for the accident.
You will need to be able to prove that negligence was at play. For example, if you slipped on a wet floor at a shopping centre that had recently been cleaned but warning signs were not displayed, then the building manager may be responsible because they neglected to alert shoppers to the hazard.
However, if you slipped on a wet floor where warning signs had been placed while the floor dried, you are likely to have been at fault for not taking care near the hazard.
You should seek the assistance of a personal injury lawyer if you are unsure as to who may be at fault for your accident.
How will compensation be determined?
The amount of compensation received will correlate to the types of injuries and the extent of the expenses incurred as a result. If, for example, you are unable to work due to your injury, you may be eligible for compensation for lost wages, as well as expenses related to travel to and from medical appointments and the appointments themselves. Consideration will also be given to your pain and suffering and how the injury will impact your quality of life and ability to work in the long term.
How long will it take to settle my claim?
With the help of a personal injury lawyer, a claim for compensation in a slip and fall accident will usually be settled out of court, which is preferred by most parties.
It can take around 12-18 months from the time of the accident to reach a settlement, because it usually takes around six to 12 months for the injury to stabilise, meaning it is unlikely to get worse (even if it won’t get better) from that stage. There is no point rushing through a settlement only to find months down the track that the injury is worse than anticipated because once a settlement has taken place the claim cannot be revisited.
It is highly recommended that you engage the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to manage your claim. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, our experienced lawyers are here to help. GIve us a call on (07) 4052 0700.