Customer wins claim against Supermarket after slipping on squashed grapes!

PUBLISHED 27 May 2019

Our client was a lawful entrant customer at a large supermarket/grocery store chain in the Upper North Shore Sydney in the State of New South Wales when she slipped and fell on a floor contaminated by liquid and squashed grapes causing her to slip and fall and suffer injury. She made a claim in negligence for compensation as a result of her injuries arising from the accident.

The supermarkets/grocery store chain is the largest in Australia and they had the occupation, care, control and management of the premises where our client attended for the purposes of shopping. The incident occurred in the afternoon where there was a significant number of customers who were attending the premises at the time. Our client was entering the store and as she walked past the back of the grapes display, when she was caused to lose balance, slip and fall on liquid contaminate and squashed grapes which were on the floor. Staff attended to our client to assist her and a report was made of the incident.

As a result of the accident our client suffered serious injuries to her neck, left shoulder, lower back, left knee and shock and trauma and psychological trauma from the accident. She suffered shock and psychological trauma from the accident. She attended to her family doctor for initial treatment and management. Her family doctor referred her to have x-rays and physiotherapy treatment and prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to monitor her condition. Over a period, she continued to suffer from symptoms to her neck, left shoulder, lower back and left knee. The x-rays revealed that she was suffering from impingement to her neck, significant muscle wasting present on the left forearm and left shoulder tendonitis. But she required cortisone injections into her left shoulder over many months.

The client’s symptoms did not resolve, and we arranged for her to be independently medically examined and assessed. The orthopaedic specialist found that her ability to lead a normal life had been impaired as a result of the accident. He assessed her as suffering from permanent impairment of her neck and her left shoulder as a result of the accident which required ongoing treatment and further investigations.

A letter of claim was forwarded to the grocery store and its insurer. They provided us with the incident report. It was clear from the information and documents that we had received from the insurer that there was no adequate and reasonable cleaning system in place at the time of the accident. The insurer conceded that if there were squashed grapes and if the floor was contaminated by liquid and squashed grapes that it would have been slippery and wet at the time for liability purposes.

We launched legal proceedings against the grocery store in negligence. They filed a defence denying our client’s injury, loss and damage and pleaded that our client was at fault because she was not looking where she was walking. This was completely denied by our client and it was clear from the evidence that there was not a proper and reasonable cleaning system in place at the time of the accident. This was clear from the following: –

  1. The employees where not keeping a constant lookout for any spillage, contaminant or hazards on the floor;
  2. The employees where not taking appropriate action in terms of cleaning procedures if any spillages, hazards or contaminant was found on the floor;
  3. The cleaning procedure which was not followed through with included:
  1. Removing the spillage, hazard or contaminant or stand guard over the spillage, hazard or contaminant as appropriate
  2. Calling another staff member to obtain warning sings and a spill kit to clean up the spillage, hazard and contaminant;
  3. Placing warning sings over and around the spillage, hazard and contaminant.

It was clear from the evidence of our client and the grocery stores evidence that none of these reasonable and necessary precautions were undertaken by the supermarket/grocery store employees prior to our client’s accident and therefore it resulted in our client suffering a serious injury but for the negligence of the supermarkets/grocery store.

Our client attended to be medically examined and assessed at the request of the defendant. The defendant did not serve any medical evidence in response to the medical treatment evidence served from our client’s treating doctors and specialist and also the medico-legal reports which had assessed our client from suffering from permanent impairment as a result of the accident including her activities of daily living being significantly impairment and her loss of enjoyment of life.

The court made orders in relation to case management and that the parties should arrange for an informal settlement conference for the purposes of discussing the liability and medical issues in the matter. We attended to that at the request of our client and prior to the hearing of the claim. At the conclusion of the liability and medical hearing of the claim, the supermarket/grocery store was ordered to pay our client a substantial awarding damages in compensation for its negligence in causing her injuries, losses and damages. Our client was very happy with the outcome and the settlement of the matter.

If you suffer an injury as a slip and fall as pedestrian and/or customer whilst attending premises as a result of the negligence of the other party, you may be entitled to receive a awarding damages in compensation as a result of your injuries that you have suffered from the accident. It is essential that you establish negligence against that responsible party in causing the accident.

In this case our client was a lawful entrant, and customer of a large supermarket/grocery store in the Upper North Shore Sydney in the State of New South Wales when she slipped and fell on a floor contaminated by liquid and squashed grapes. As a result of her fall she suffered serious injuries, and disabilities which have affected her ability to lead a normal life.

We sued the supermarket/grocery store in negligence for not having a proper and reasonable cleaning system in place at the time of the accident. In the end the supermarket/grocery store was ordered to pay our client a substantial award in damages in compensation for her injuries, losses and damages arising from its negligence and the negligence of its staff in failing to have a proper and reasonable cleaning system in place prior to the accident. We were able to establish negligence against the supermarket/grocery store based on the evidence of our client and their evidence that they did not follow proper processes and procedures in relation to their cleaning system in place in the store at the time of the accident.

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