Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. They are most common in public places such as hotels, shopping centres, offices, parks and apartment or unit blocks.
Alarmingly slip and fall accidents are the second leading cause of accidental deaths for the age group 45-75 years. In 2011, 11% of recorded deaths in Australia were a result of falls, with New South Wales recording the highest number at 69 deaths.
The most common non-fatal injuries as a result of slip and fall accidents are musculoskeletal injuries, cuts and bruises, fractures and dislocations.
So what are your rights if you have sustained an injury due to a slip and fall accident in a public place? We investigate.
People slip and fall in public places for various reasons. Slip and fall accidents can sometimes be caused by something as simple as falling over your own feet or not watching where you are going. But others are caused by the negligence of another.
In the instance that this did occur in a public place, due to the fault of another, you will be looking at a public place accident claim, with the specifics of slip and fall accidents typically falling into this injury claim area.
People who sustain injuries from slip and fall accidents through no fault of their own may be entitled to bring a claim for damages against the owner/occupier they believe caused their accident. To succeed in such a claim they will need to prove that the owner/occupier caused or failed to prevent their injury.
An owner/occupier owes a duty of care to entrants to provide a safe premise and to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable risks of injury. This also includes ensuring their premises are cleaned and maintained regularly.
Causes for slip and fall accidents in public places may include:
- Poorly maintained stairs or handrails;
- Slippery floors;
- Slipping or falling on spilled liquid on the floor;
- Falling over objects on the floor;
- Uneven ground;
- Sudden changes in floor covering;
- Poor or no lighting.
While the above examples may suggest negligence on the part of the owner/occupier it is not enough to say that because you slipped and fell you have a case for negligence.
An injured party will need to prove that either:
- An owner/occupier should have identified a dangerous hazard and repaired and/or cleaned the hazard but didn’t. Here the Court will also look at whether the hazard existed long enough for the owner/occupier to have ample time to clean it up before the accident occurred; OR
- An owner/occupier caused a dangerous situation that led to the slip and fall and it was reasonably foreseeable that someone would slip and fall as a result. Here the Court will also look at whether the hazardous situation could have been avoided or made less dangerous by adopting reasonable practicable preventative measures.
A claim for a slip and fall accident in Queensland is brought under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002. An injured party will have to prove that their slip and fall accident is a result of a negligent owner/occupier.
Only once this has been proven will an injured party then be entitled to receive damages for their injury.
Recoverable damages can include an amount for pain and suffering, past loss of income and superannuation, reimbursement for expenses already paid out, future loss of income and superannuation, and costs likely to be incurred in the future.
Slip and fall accidents in public places are an all too common occurrence. Whether the cause of the slip and fall accident is due to the negligence of an owner/occupier will determine if an injured party is entitled to compensation for their injury.
While certain people may be at a greater risk of falling than others, we can all do our part to help prevent slip and falls. Owner/occupiers can ensure that their premise is fitted with anti-slip flooring, is well illuminated, is well maintained, and that there is an appropriate cleaning schedule in place.
Visitors/those entering the premises can also help to prevent themselves from falling by wearing appropriate footwear, being aware of their surroundings and any potential hazards, and observing all safety signs and warnings.
If you believe you may have a public place accident claim, or a more general personal injury claim, we can help. Our expert lawyers will provide you with a free case review and discuss all your options.
If you do have a claim, we will run it for you on our No Win, No Fee, No Problems guarantee.