Congested Aisle at Major Supermarkets Leading to Injury

Published 29 Mar 2012

Public Liability Claims and GMP FAST-TRACK Resolution Policy

We recently acted for Ms K who lived in the Northern Suburbs and who visited one of the major supermarket stores to carry out some shopping. It was the festive time of the year and the stores were very busy.

Our client, a woman in her mid 50s was very cautious going through the aisle looking for the various items that she wished to purchase. She saw up ahead of her that there were customers coming in the other direction so she was conscious of them approaching. Also ahead of her to the right were staff filling up some of the shelves. On the left of our client was a pallet with boxes on it which was being used by the employee’s to stock the shelves. As our client was walking along the other customer was also coming towards her there was some congestion and our client was trying to move to the side and as she did so her foot came into contact with the pallet resulting in her losing balance and slipping and falling in a forward motion jarring her body. She did not fall to the ground, she held onto the trolley but slipped and landed on one knee. The result of this was effectively jarring her lower back, injuring her knee and her shoulder and neck region.

Our client subsequently saw us at our North Parramatta Office and provided us with instructions to pursue a claim for her injuries. After looking at the facts and obtaining a statement from our client, it was clear that the supermarket had breached their duty of care to her. Clearly, the Manager in the supermarket should have ensured that such pallets were not causing potential dangers in the aisle, especially during the business periods. Shopping Centre’s and in particular supermarket stores have an obligation to ensure the safety of their customers that are walking in and out of the store and walking up and down the aisles. Customers are usually looking at the shelves and whilst most customers are cautions and do keep a proper look out, it is inevitable when looking at items on the shelves that you may have forgotten the fact that there are boxes or pallets on the floor in the nearby vicinity.

The obligation is on the Shopping Centre and/or the supermarkets to ensure the safely of their customers not to allow their common walkway areas or their aisles to be cluttered or to have large ladders or shopping trolleys in the middle of the aisle causing potential dangers/hazards.

Too often we come across cases where the client is walking past one of the employees who is on a ladder stacking shelves and drops a box landing on the clients head or shoulder. In this particular instance, it was clear that the particular supermarket store was at fault; our client was happy with the fact that we were able to quickly obtain copies of her medical and hospital record. We arranged her to be examined by one of our Doctors and commenced proceedings without too much delay so as to try and resolve the claim early. The matter was resolved in less than 18 months as the supermarket’s Insurer conceded that the injury was their fault. The cause of the injury was their failure to ensure the safely of their customers. Gerard Malouf and Partners, in the normal preparation of the claim, served upon the Insurer and their Solicitor all the medical evidence. We provide them with particulars of the claim, details of any economic loss or care and under a Fast Track Policy – were able to bring the matter to an early resolution. The effect of our “Fast Track Policy” is it saves costs to our clients and minimises the need to go to Court and thereby incur further costs.

Our middle aged client, needed assistant care from her family members in terms of vacuuming, cleaning and domestic assistance, the client was not in any employment, apart from looking after her family, the claim settled well in excess of $100,000 which was a fantastic result for Ms K.

One of the major arguments used in support of Ms K claim and to show how the Defendants supermarket was negligent was the fact that all customers going to their supermarkets for the purposes of carrying out shopping, they do not go in there to deliberately injurer themselves.

It’s the obligation of the supermarket and/or the store owners to ensure the safety of their customers. Cluttering the aisle with pallets or stacks of boxes so they can stock the shelves during the course of the day, this is clearly not satisfactory conduct, especially during the busy periods. That clearly has the potential danger of resulting in injuries. There are Occupational Health and Safely issues that the supermarket must comply with.  In this case it failed and resulted in our client successfully seeking and being paid significant compensation.

Vrege (Reg) Kolokossian the managing partner who also supervised the clients file to get the result confirmed “It is pleasing to process claims quickly and get a good result. Mrs K was very happy and our “Fast Track” Policy and in progressing the claims quickly certainly provides an added benefit to the clients in ensuring an early resolution of the claims. The “Fast Track” Policy eliminates unnecessary delays and costs. Our clients have certainly experienced the benefits of Fast Track over the last 2 years” and all our solicitors ensure it is implemented across the board.”.