Introduction to Personal Injuries* for Falling in Restaurants
Someone who wishes to claim compensation for personal injuries* for falling in restaurants would file for slips, trips and falls compensation – which covers accidents that happen in restaurants and other public places, and are one of the most common types of personal injury* claims. Quite often, the person’s fall in a restaurant and corresponding injury is an unfortunate accident for which they alone are at fault. However, some falls which occur in restaurants are obviously due to another person or entity’s negligence, who owed the victim a legal duty of care.
Establishing Negligence in a Restaurant Fall Compensation Claim
The owner of a restaurant or any other property is usually required to take “reasonable” steps to prevent a fall, trip or slip happening on their premises. Or course, such an accident can never be predicted and the restaurant owner is protected by law against false or baseless claims for restaurant falls. Listed below are some examples of when a claim for restaurant fall injury compensation would be disqualified:
- If the plaintiff was trespassing in the restaurant when the accident occurred
- If the plaintiff was behaving recklessly or in a dangerous manner which resulted in their injury
- If a “reasonable person” would have taken note of the hazardous condition and acted to avoid it
- If the owner took typical and rational to prevent an accident by placing a barrier in front of a temporary hazard, for example, and therefore observing health and safety laws.
Generally, restaurant owners owe a duty of care to keep their premises in a clean and safe condition, and many restaurant owners will be insured against claims for restaurant falls, slips or trips in their restaurant.
If a restaurant owner fails in their duty of care to keep the restaurant in a clean and safe condition, and you suffer and injury from a fall in a restaurant due to their negligence, you would be entitled to make a claim for a restaurant fall.
The “Absolute” Duty of Care
The only exemption to the guidelines outlined above for establishing negligence in claims for personal injuries* for falling in restaurants is whether the restaurant owner had an “absolute” duty of care.
For example, if you were dining in a restaurant and you fell over a handbag that another customer who had just arrived had placed on the ground, a court in Ireland would not consider the restaurant liable for your injuries as the restaurant staff did not have a “reasonable” opportunity to identify the hazard and ask the customer to keep it in a safe place.
There are ways in which it can be determined whether or not the party potentially liable for your injuries could have acted in a reasonable period of time to make your accident avoidable and thus prevented your injury. These differ according to each individual scenario so, if you have sustained an injury due to a fall in a restaurant which you believe could have been prevented with better care, it would be worth your while to discuss the situation surrounding your accident with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity in order to establish whether you have a viable restaurant fall compensation claim.
Procedure to Follow after a Fall in a Restaurant
The most important procedure to follow after you have fallen in a restaurant and sustained an injury is to look after your health. An ambulance should have been called if the injuries you sustained were deemed serious. If an ambulance was not required, you should have visited your nearest Accident and Emergency department or seen your local GP immediately after the accident occurred.
Gathering evidence should have been delayed until after you saw a medical practitioner who examined you and recorded your injury in your medical history. If you waited for a few days or even weeks before seeking medical treatment, and the severity of your injury was exacerbated, you will be accused of contributory negligence which will probably affect the value of compensation you are likely to receive for your restaurant fall compensation claim.
The record the medical practitioner made in your medical history could be used by your solicitor to support any claims for restaurant falls; however, if you depended on first aid at the scene of the accident or if you took care of your injuries when you returned home, an official record of your injuries will not exist and it may be very difficult for you to pursue your restaurant fall compensation claim.
Record Your Restaurant Fall in the Accident Report Book
The owner of the restaurant will more than likely maintain an accident report book on their premises and you should request that the details of your accident are recorded immediately if you have not already done so. All accidents that occur in restaurants and other public establishments should be reported by the business to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
Should the HSA subsequently investigate the circumstances of your fall, and discover that the owner of the restaurant has been negligent by breaching their duty of care, any restaurant fall compensation claims will be strengthened as a result. In a typical situation your solicitor will later ask for copies of the accident report book, along with CCTV footage of the fall (if available) which will be used as evidence to support your claim.
If the restaurant failed to maintain an accident report book, your case will not necessarily be damaged, as a court may believe that this is an indication of the general atmosphere of negligence on their part. It is important, however, that you requested that the accident be recorded.
Using Modern Technology in a Fall in a Restaurant Claim
Most people in Ireland own and use a mobile phone, and most mobile phone have a camera function that can be used in the aftermath of an accident to record images of the scene and show exactly how the fall happened.
Immediately after the accident, it is understandable that the victim may feel angry and upset but it is always recommended to remain calm and polite and to not discuss liability at the scene if at all possible. As mentioned above, it is imperative that the incident be recorded in the restaurants accident report book without admitting or accusing any liability for the accident.
You may also be able to gather details of witnesses to the accident to support your restaurant fall compensation claim, depending on the nature of your injuries and whether emergency medical treatment is required.
Making Claims for Restaurant Falls
The first thing to do when pursing a compensation claim for personal injuries* for falling in restaurants is to submit an application for assessment to the Injuries Board Ireland. It may be worth your while in engaging the assistance of a solicitor, as somebody unfamiliar with the process may omit an essential factor which could affect the value of a claim for a fall in a restaurant.
When the Injuries Board has received your applications for assessment, along with the supporting documents and payment, the person or entity responsible for your injury will be contacted and their consent will be requested in order for your claim to proceed. You may be required to undergo a further medical examination so that the Injuries Board can evaluate the progress of your injuries.
Once the assessment has been completed, the Injuries Board will issue you and the negligent party a Notice of Assessment which will be followed by an Order to Pay – if both you and the negligent party agree on the amount evaluated from your restaurant fall claim. Should the assessment be contested for being either too high or too low, or if consent is not granted at the start of your assessment, the Injuries Board will give you an “Authorisation” to pursue your claim for restaurant falls by court action.
Negotiation, Court Action and Insurance Companies in Claims for Restaurant Falls
If you work with a solicitor from the very start of your personal injuries* for falling in restaurants compensation claim, he or she will also approach the negligent party’s insurance company and attempt to negotiate a settlement for your restaurant fall compensation claim while the Injuries Board continues with the assessment process. The result of direct negotiations may be a complete and satisfactory settlement for claims for restaurant falls, far sooner than if waiting for the Injuries Board to finish its process – in which case the Injuries Board will be notified, and your application for assessment will be cancelled.
However, in the event that there is no agreement over the final value of compensation you are entitled to, court action will be necessary. Your solicitor will not be able to proceed with court action without an Authorisation from the Injuries Board and this is the reason why applications are submitted to the Injuries Board – even when there is a high possibility that your compensation claim for a restaurant fall being settled during negotiations with the negligent party’s insurers.
Many insurance companies are willing to settle a claim for a restaurant fall out of court, as it means fewer costs in the long run for them; however, you should be aware that sometimes the insurers will approach you directly – soon after the accident and when you are at your most vulnerable – with an unsolicited offer which may not accurately reflect the effect of the injury you sustained following a fall in a restaurant on your quality of life.
If approached with an offer like this, it would be worth your while referring it to an experienced solicitor who can offer you impartial advice on how to handle a situation such as this. Should you accept an offer which is later found to be an inadequate to cover medical expenses or support your family, you can never go back to the insurance company and ask for more.
The Value of Compensation in a Restaurant Fall Compensation Claim
The value of compensation you will receive for a personal injuries* for falling in restaurants claim depends on the nature and extent of your injuries which are measured against the Book of Quantum – a publication which lists a variety of injuries and allocates them a financial value. This value will then be modified to account for your age, general state of health prior to the accident and, in some cases, your sex.
You will also receive compensation for any deterioration in your quality of life if you can no longer perform day-to-day tasks or partake in social or leisure activities and compensation may also be awarded for any psychological trauma you may have experience as a result of your fall in a restaurant. Additionally, you may be reimbursed for any financial expenses or losses which can be directly attributed to your accident.
No two claims for restaurant falls are identical, even when the injuries sustained are the same. To make sure that you are compensated with the maximum amount allowed under your personal circumstances, you would be well advised to discuss your situation with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.
Advice about Personal Injuries* for Falling in Restaurants
There are several scenarios which have not been included in this article such as restaurant fall claims for children and those circumstances in which you may have played a partial role in your accident or the deterioration of your injury. Any questions you may have about a restaurant fall claim should be asked as soon as possible after the accident, before evidence of negligence is removed and when the memories of witnesses are still fresh.
Most solicitors will offer a free initial consultation of your claim for a restaurant fall, where any queries can be answered. It is worth noting that any fees associated with pursuing legal action for your claim can also be reimbursed.
No two compensation claims for a restaurant fall injury are ever identical, and if you have been injured in a restaurant fall and believe that you may have a potential restaurant fall compensation claim, you would be well advised to consult a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.