We are all entitled to feel safe and secure when we are out and about, whether this be in commercial premises like shops, shopping centres, restaurants or other entertainment venues, or in our cars or on public transport. But the fact is that poorly maintained flooring and equipment, and spillages that are not cleaned up can lead to many of us suffering injury from slips, trip and falls. These injuries can prove to be costly in terms of loss of time from work, and more serious injuries can be actually be life changing. And yet many people do not make a claim despite the fact that they have a perfectly legitimate reason to do so.
Commercial premises have Commercial premises liability – that is they have a responsibility to keep their equipment, their property, and things within like flooring, stairs, tiles etc up to a standard that is safe. Spillages can occur when liquid is sold or used, but these should be cleaned up in a timely manner, or the area should be made safe by being cordoned off with appropriate signage. The same goes for food and drink spilled on the floor in eateries and bars. But sometimes these things are not adhered to, and that is when accidents, sometimes serious, can occur. I know this from personal experience.
It may surprise you that people would not make a claim, even though they had suffered financially due to no fault of their own, but it is not surprising to me. In fact, it is one of those situations where I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt. A few years ago I had a rather nasty accident. I had gone into town and parked on a council run car park. Unfortunately, it was full of potholes which had not been filled in, and as I got out of the car, wearing heels, my foot went into a pothole and I fell. I twisted both my leg and foot and couldn’t get up without help. A trip to hospital for an x ray followed, and it turned out that as well as a badly twisted knee, which was badly bruised and very painful, I had also broke three toes on my right foot. I was off my feet for a few weeks, lost time off work because my job needed me to be mobile, which I clearly wasn’t, and there were further trips to hospital and physio was needed.
It was a painful and frustrating time, and clearly I was well within my rights to make a claim. The carpark wasn’t free, it was a pay and display, and therefore someone had the responsibility to uphold the maintenance of the setting, something which had clearly been neglected. Although I wasn’t financially affected as I was paid during my absence, this could’ve easily happened to someone else who was not covered for sick leave. And then there was my own discomfort, the pain I suffered, the trips to hospital that I could frankly do without. And yet I did not claim – the idea of the blame culture was at the back of my mind, as well as dreading copious amounts of paperwork.
With hindsight, I definitely should have made a claim. Making a claim means you are compensated for your distress, but can also prevent it happening again to someone else. It acknowledges that someone was at fault, and that it wasn’t you – something that can be very important if you are forced to take time from work. In the most severe of circumstances, it can help your family financially if you are the main breadwinner, especially if you are left with life changing injuries.