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QLD Personal Injury at Woolworths

Discussion in 'Personal Injury Law Forum' started by Bronwyn, 17 March 2015.

  1. Bronwyn

    Bronwyn Member

    17 March 2015
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    I had a very nasty fall in Woolworths 3 weeks ago. I need to know what I can claim under personal injury law as this had made my personal and work life unbearable.
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

    16 April 2014
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    Hi Bronwyn,
    I assume that you have suffered a personal injury as a result of the fall and the fall did not occur in the course of your employment (if it occurred during your employment, it would be dealt with under the Workers Compensation Scheme).

    Woolies owe you a duty of care to ensure you as an entrant are not exposed to foreseeable risks of injury and if you are, that you are warned of such risks. However, they are only required to take reasonable steps. The simple fact that you incurred an injury within their premises does not automatically give rise to a right to sue. Your first hurdle will therefore be to prove that Woolies owed you a duty and that they have breached that duty by some negligence. What were the circumstances of your fall?

    What you can claim in terms of damages will depend on the nature and severity of your injuries. However generally the damages you will be entitled to include:
    • General damages which compensate you in monetary terms for any pain and suffering you experience, loss of amenities of life, reduced life expectations and/or any disfigurement. General damages are determined by reference to a sliding scale by assigning your injury a value from 0 (negligible injury) to 100 (the most serious injury) based on its severity. These amounts are capped.
    • Reimbursement for your out of pocket expenses (medical etc)
    • Compensation for any earnings you lost as a result of being unable to work.
    Bear in mind you will need to provide proof of all these things, so start keeping records if you intend to make a claim.

    Also bear in mind that strict time limits apply to making a claim - so you need to see a lawyer as soon as possible if you are thinking about making a claim.
    Ivy likes this.
  3. procrastinasian

    procrastinasian Well-Known Member

    31 October 2014
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    I'm sorry to hear about your accident Bronwyn,

    I really like Sophea's answer. She summarized your specific enquiry well. I also agree that you should speak to a lawyer asap if you intend to make a claim. In most cases, you have 3 years from the accident date in Queensland. However, I recommend that you don't think of this limitation period as the only consideration for speaking with a lawyer. There may be time sensitive aspects such as evidence (video, witnesses, etc.) that may be gone if you delay too long.

    My principal also actually approved an article that I wrote regarding some recent court decisions I was fascinated with (because I come from Canada and things are a bit different there.) Please do not consider this as indicative of your own outcome because as Sophea wisely put it, the circumstances of your fall should also be put into consideration. Here is a bit of a short excerpt I chose that you might find interesting. I think it contrasts well with what Sophea was trying to say about the duty of care issue. Please note that the hyperlinks for the news articles I cited might not work because of how this site's coding is, so if you would like specific links, you can just fire me a message and I can send them to you.

    Clients need to understand that it is necessary to prove the threshold requirements to be successful in their claim:
    • They need to prove that the occupier (e.g. supermarket) owed a duty of care to provide a safe environment for their customers;
    • The occupier was negligent by failing to follow that duty of care;
    • The negligence of the occupier is proven to cause injury to another person; and
    • As a result of the injury, the person has (or will in the future) suffer a loss (e.g. medical expenses, lost wages from work, out of pocket expenses, etc.)
    Clients sometimes get apprehensive because they do not understand whether or not they may have a case against the supermarket. With reference to recent cases, our firm will provide a few guidelines to follow to help your claim if you have been injured in an accident:
    • Stores are held to a high duty of care to their customers
    Strong v Woolworths Ltd: In 2012, a woman amputee slipped on a chip near the entrance of a Big W store during their sidewalk sale. She was successful in her claim because the High Court accepted that in order to comply with an occupiers duty of care, checking and removing slipping hazards must occur no less than every 20 minutes.

    Fitzsimmons v Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd: Another case in 2013 involved a woman who slipped on a wet floor despite there being three ‘wet floor’ signs because the staff left to get the necessary tools to clean it properly. The courts held that the supermarket should have stationed staff to warn less attentive customers of the spill because the signs were not at eye-level and could be overlooked by customers shopping.
    • Make sure you file an incident report with the store.
    The most recent case that has hit the news in 2014 involves a woman in the Sunshine Coast who slipped on a grape in Woolworths and is suing the company for $320,000. However, Woolworths is arguing that the incident might never even have happened because it was not reported on that day.

    It is important to inform the staff and have an incident report filed as soon as possible after an accident. Some people may feel this may be unnecessary because they might not feel a lot of pain, may be embarrassed, etc.

    However, they also run the risk of severely affecting their legal rights to compensation if their injuries become worse because of the accident. Unless you are a doctor, it is very hard to determine the full extent of your injuries immediately after they have occurred.

    It is also helpful to get the names of staff or anyone else who are witnesses to the accident.

    This simple step can save a substantial amount of time in legal arguments.

    • Proving a slip & fall accident may be difficult.
    A victim of a slip and fall injury has the responsibility to prove all the elements of a negligence claim on a balance of probabilities.

    Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd v Meneghello: This was another 2013 case that involved a woman who slipped on two pieces of cardboard at a Coles store. However, she lost in court because it was held that she could not prove direct evidence that her foot was in contact with the cardboard (despite the fact that she saw the cardboard near where she had fallen.) It was also held that in this case, it could not be proven that the cardboard constituted a severe slip hazard.

    I hope that you find this information helpful and easy to read. Please let me know what you think, and also if there are ways I can improve my writing for people like yourself who have enquiries (one of the sad realities of being a law student is that we tend to mix up 'legalese' with our regular conversation.

    You're in my prayers for a quick and speedy recovery :)

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