Visitors to shops and other public premises may be able to claim compensation if they are injured due to the negligence of management or staff at the premises. Such places owe a legal duty of care to their visitors, and must make sure that potential hazards are identified and eliminated at the earliest possible opportunity. Managers and staff are also responsible for the safety of their car park and other outdoor areas. In winter, ice and snow pose a particular challenge, with hospital admissions surging due to injuries caused by slips and falls. The owners or occupiers of public premises must maintain adequate supplies of salt or grit to deal with freezing conditions, and must use these supplies promptly and liberally to protect visitors from slipping and injuring themselves.
Shops, supermarkets, hotels, leisure centers, swimming pools, and similar places open to the public, must ensure that their premises are reasonably safe for their lawful visitors. In supermarkets this involves an efficient system of inspection and cleaning, that responds rapidly to hazards such as spilled products as soon as they are identified. Facilities must be in a state of good repair. Defective fixtures and fittings may cause injuries, such as falls down unlit stairways, or a chair collapsing in a restaurant. It is possible for a person to slip, trip and fall in almost any circumstance, and where the resulting injuries are caused by the negligence of the owner or occupier of the premises, or a member of their staff, a person may be able to claim compensation.
Workers are often injured through no fault of their own, but rather due to the negligence of their employer (or the actions of a co-worker, for which the employer may be held liable). Employers have a legal responsibility to provide staff with safe working premises, and most importantly, a safe system of work, that minimises the risk of injuries. Essentially, they are expected to take all reasonable measures to reduce the incidence rate of injuries among workers to the lowest possible level. In physically demanding professions, such as nursing and construction, employers must pay particular attention to risk assessments, as back injuries in particular are common, caused by heavy lifting and repetitive strain placed on the body.
Both members of the public and workers may therefore claim compensation for personal injuries caused by the negligence of a third party. It is necessary to prove firstly that a duty of care existed (a worker’s contract with their employer for example), and that a breach of this duty of care directly caused a person’s injury. Apart from both physical and emotional pain and suffering, an injured person may also claim for loss of earnings due to incapacity, and all associated medical costs. Successful claims may have the additional benefit of driving up industry and workplace safety standards generally, reducing the possibility of a person suffering a similar injury in the future.