Before we look at the personal injury claims process as a consequence of having slipped on a wet floor, both in the workplace and public areas, it is worth reminding ourselves that not all injuries are as a consequence of negligence.
We know that employers have a duty of care to all employees with regards to their health and safety which takes in issues such as the working environment. There will be situations where floors are wet for a relatively short space of time, over which period the employer could not be expected to have acted, and injuries occur. As long as the employer, or owner of the property, is able to prove there was insufficient time to remove the danger of a wet floor, then the charge of negligence may be rejected.
Proving Negligence If You’ve Slipped On A Wet Floor
There are a number of ways in which negligence can be proved with regards to slipping on wet floors and subsequent injuries. These include:
- A lack of warning signs for potential dangers.
- Slow in taking action to avoid wet floor dangers.
- Failure to maintain clean and tidy premises.
- Failure to fix plumbing issues potentially leading to wet floors.
There is no one list that fits all with regards to potential negligence but, in broad terms, a slow reaction time in addressing wet floors/food spillages or plumbing issues can be telling. It is worth noting that these issues also apply to slip and trip injuries to the general public as a consequence of wet floors/food spillages in business premises.
One example often used when trying to explain negligence is that surrounding wet weather. As customers and employees come and go through business premises this can lead to slippery floors. If it had been raining for some time and it was obvious the floor was potentially dangerous a third party could be held negligent due to their slow reaction time. Even the addition of warning notices should be sufficient in the short term, ahead of drying off the wet floor, but the fact the business may have been busy at the time is not an excuse.
However, if there had been a sudden downpour and the employer/owner of the premises did not have suitable time to react before somebody has slipped and injured themselves on the wet floor then they may not be found negligent.
Common Injuries Form Slipping On Wet Floors
While the vast majority of injuries caused by slipping on wet floors are immediately noticeable there are others which may take some time to emerge. Common injuries include:
- Soft tissue damage.
- Cuts and laceration injuries (often as a consequence of contact with adjacent objects).
- Fractured and broken bones.
- Ligament/tendon damage.
- Head injuries such as concussion.
The situation is more complicated where there are adjacent objects which the victim may hit as a consequence of having slipped on wet floor. This is especially dangerous where cutting machinery is located and further highlights the need to react to these dangers as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there have been occurrences where individuals have slipped on wet floors and come into contact with adjacent objects causing fatal injuries.
Slipped On Wet Floor At Work
While there are an array of Parliamentary acts covering various elements of the workplace the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 covers the explicit duty of care which employers have towards their employees. This legally binding duty of care covers an array of employment issues one of which is providing a safe working environment. It also includes issues such as:
- Staff training to avoid spillages/maintain a safe workplace.
- Clearly defined procedures to ensure a safe working environment.
- Non-slip footwear should be provided where appropriate.
- Warning signs should be erected as soon as a potential danger is identified.
Interestingly, there are situations where for example one employee may have been negligent causing injury to a colleague and negligence still prevails with the employer. There may also be instances of shared negligence, between one employee and the employer, but just because injuries are caused by another employee does not necessarily mean the company will escape prosecution. As we touched on above, there are all kinds of elements to take into consideration such as staff training, wet floor warning signs, etc and if one colleague was not made aware of the relevant procedures, partial blame would likely be placed upon the employer.
Slips On Wet Floors In Shops And Other Public Places
Over the years there have been many situations where injuries have occurred in shops such as supermarkets or other public places as a consequence of slipping on wet floors. Where the injury has occurred within a business premise the owners still have a duty of care to ensure the area is safe for visitors. This is contained in the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 which offer similar protection to the duty of care employers have towards their employees.
We have seen instances where property owners have disputed negligence when a customer/visitor was injured. If as an example we look at slips while shopping, the property owner may cite inappropriate footwear as a significant factor in the injury. This may well be the case in general terms, but if the property owner should have foreseen the regular use of “inappropriate” footwear on their premises then from a legal point of view they should have taken account of this. So, it is very difficult for property owners to pass the blame onto victims although there are some scenarios where the victim may have been partially or wholly responsible.
Lodging A Claim For Compensation
If you suffer an injury as a consequence of a slipping on a wet floor in the workplace, business premises or public area and somebody was at fault, you may have a strong case for compensation. The first thing to do is prove negligence on behalf of one or more third parties. In a scenario where potentially more than one party might have been negligent, this does not stop the claimant lodging a claim. They will need to mention the potentially negligent parties but it will be the courts responsibility to apportion blame and make a decision.
Obviously, the first thing to do if you suffered injury from slipping on a wet floor is to seek medical assistance and treatment where applicable. The vast majority of injuries will become visible fairly quickly but instances of concussion and other similar injuries may take more time to emerge. Unfortunately, there are some people who are victims of this type of injury who felt “fine at the time” and failed to seek medical assistance. This can prove potentially fatal in the event of concussion where the appropriate treatment has not been received. It is also worth noting that where medical assistance has been requested and treatment received, this will be noted on the claimant’s medical file and could prove vital in the event that a compensation claim is pursued.
Evidence For Your Compensation Claim
It is also useful, where possible, to obtain photographs of the wet floor and area in which the accident occurred as well as witness statements and contact details. In reality, in the event of painful and potentially fatal injury this would be the last thing on the victims mind but hopefully others may be able to assist. There may also be CCTV coverage available which can be useful when building a picture of the incident. When all evidence has been collated, this should be placed in a timeline which will allow a personal injury solicitor to advise you accordingly. In the event that you have a strong case they will likely offer a No Win No Fee arrangement. This ensures those not able to fund their legal costs can instead choose to apportion a percentage of their compensation payment to their solicitors on a successful outcome.
This type of arrangement has proved to be extremely beneficial because not only does it allow those with a valid injury claim to pursue negligent parties but it also places extreme pressure on those found guilty of negligence to amend working practices and help prevent others from slipping on wet floors and injuries in the future. The vast majority of cases are settled out of court when negligence is fairly obvious although where negligence is contested or perhaps shared amongst two or more parties, it will potentially go to a full hearing.
What Compensation Could You Claim For Slipping On A Wet Floor
When pursuing an injury claim if you’ve slipped on a wet floor there are two different types of compensation which are available. These include general damages which relate to:
- Pain and suffering.
- Mental anguish.
- Life altering injuries.
General damages are deemed to be compensation for the injuries incurred as a consequence of the slip injuries. The Judicial College regularly issues guidelines for an array of wet floor injuries which have come before the courts in years gone by. While these guidelines are not legally binding, they do offer a point of reference when insurance companies and the courts are considering appropriate levels of compensation.
The second type of compensation is special damages and takes into account:
- Loss of earnings.
- Future loss of earnings.
- Adaptions to the home.
- Medical expenses.
- Future medical expenses.
- Additional transportation costs.
While there is some discretion with regards to the level of general damages compensation awarded, special damages simply relate to financial compensation for costs incurred and future costs as a consequence of the injuries received. There is no discretion in relation to special damages but when you bear in mind elements including loss of earnings and future loss of earnings, not to mention medical treatment which could include long-term physio, the figures can very quickly build up.
If you’ve slipped on a wet floor whether at work, in a supermarket, shop, cinema, or other public place and you believe negligence is the cause contact us today and we’ll provide a free, no obligation assessment of your claim.