Restaurant Falls Compensation Claims: Slips, Trips and Falls
Restaurant falls compensation comes under the umbrella of a very common form of personal injury claim in Ireland – slips, trips and falls compensation – which relates to accidents which most frequently happen in public places. Usually, the incident in which a person has fallen and sustained an injury is merely an unlucky accident, with either the injured party or no-one at all to blame. However, there are situations where the fall and resulting injury is obviously due to the negligence of another party who had a duty of care toward the potential plaintiff in a slips, trips and falls compensation claim.
Establishing Negligence in Slips, Trips and Falls Claims
Property owners, in general, are expected to take what is known as “reasonable steps” to avoid the occurrence of any trips or falls on their premises. Of course it is impossible to make sure that accidents will never occur and the owner of a restaurant is legally protected against claims that are false or unfounded. Listed below are some examples of when a claim for slips, trips and falls compensation would be disqualified:
- If the plaintiff had been trespassing on the property when the accident occurred
- If the plaintiff had behaved in a careless or dangerous way which caused his or her own injuries
- If a “reasonable man” would have noticed the dangerous state and taken steps to avoid it
- If the property owner acted reasonably to avoid any potential danger – by erecting a barrier before a temporary hazard, for example – in compliance with health and safety laws
Many property owners would be insured against slips, trips and falls on their premises – whether or not the property is publicly or privately owned, though broadly speaking, restaurateurs owe a duty of care to ensure that their premises are maintained in a clean and safe condition.
You would, therefore, qualify to make a claim for slips, trips and falls compensation, if a restaurant owner, proprietor or another person who held responsibility for your health and safety had failed in their duty of care in keeping their premises in a clean and safe condition and you subsequently sustained an injury in a fall in a restaurant that occurred as a result of their negligence.
The “Absolute” Duty of Care in a Slips, Trips and Falls Compensation Claim
Should you slip on an item of food which had recently been dropped from a diner’s plate in a restaurant – prompting you to attempt to pursue a claim for restaurant falls compensation – a court in Ireland would not consider the restaurant liable for your injuries as restaurant staff would not have had a “reasonable” opportunity to identify the hazard and remove it.
This example relates to the one exception to the guidelines and some further examples of when a restaurateur may not have an “absolute” duty of care include:
- If an ice-making machine had just broken down and water from the equipment leaked onto the floor of the restaurant causing you to slip and fall
- If a light bulb which illuminated a stairway had recently blown and you fell down the restaurant stairs because you could not see where you were going
- If a sudden cloudburst had caused the entrance of the restaurant to become wet, and you slipped on the rainwater before staff had the opportunity to eliminate the hazard
It is advisable that you consult a solicitor for advice at the earliest opportunity possible if you have sustained an injury – which you feel could have been prevented with a greater degree of care – and you believe that you have a claim for restaurant falls compensation. There are ways in which it can be determined whether or not your injuries could have been avoided if the potentially liable party for your injuries had acted within an adequate period of time.
Steps to Follow after a Slip, Trip or Fall in a Restaurant
After sustaining an injury in a slip, trip or fall accident whether your accident occurs in a restaurant – leading to a claim for restaurant falls compensation or in any other place of public access, your first priority should always be looking after your health and safety. If your injury was serious, an ambulance should have been called immediately. If it was less severe, you should have still visited the Accident and Emergency department of your nearest hospital, or the least you could have done was make an emergency appointment to see your GP.
The gathering of evidence should always be postponed in these circumstances, as you would never want to run the risk of exasperating your injury -potentially causing permanent damage which could have been prevented with immediate medical attention. If you do indeed exasperate the severity of your injury by neglecting to receive medical attention at the first possible moment, the settlement for your slips, trips and falls compensation claim may be significantly reduced, as you will be considered to have contributed to the extent of your injury.
If you did, in fact, attend a hospital or your GP’s surgery after your accident in the restaurant, a record would have been made in your medical history, describing the nature of your injuries and the circumstances under which they were sustained. Your solicitor could then use the record to support your compensation claim for a fall in a restaurant. However, if you tended to your own injuries when you returned home or if you relied solely on first aid at the scene of the accident, no official record of the injuries you sustained from your slip, trip or fall will exist, which may hinder your pursuance of a compensation claim for a restaurant fall.
Record Slips, Trips or Falls in the Accident Report Book
The proprietor of a restaurant, shop or any other kind of business would normally keep an accident report book on the premises and it is recommended that you request the details of your accident are recorded straight away. The person responsible for maintaining the accident report book may be duty bound to report your accident to the Health and Safety Authority (HAS).
A report made by the HAS -should they subsequently investigate the cause of your accident – may strengthen your slips, trips and falls compensation claim if the restaurant owner or proprietor has been found negligent in their duty of care. Your solicitor could request copies of the accident report book, along with CCTV footage of the incident (if available), which will also be used as evidence in support of your claim.
Your case will not be damaged if the restaurant in question does not retain an accident report book on the premises, as the court may deduce that this is reflective of an overall aura of negligence on their part. What is important is that you requested for the accident to be recorded.
Making Use of Modern Technology in a Claim for a Fall in a Restaurant
Most people in Ireland own mobile phones, and most modern phones have camera and/or video facilities. If you remember that you are carrying a phone with these functions at the time of your accident, it is a good idea to use these facilities to record images of the scene following your fall to show exactly what the cause was.
Although it is not always easy, given the upset or even anger that we may naturally feel after sustaining an injury due to the negligence of another, you should try not to discuss liability at the scene of the accident. It is important to remain civil and request that the details of the accident be recorded on the accident report book and try, wherever practical, to record the names and contact details of any diners or restaurant staff who may have witnessed your fall in the restaurant.
Making a Claim for Restaurant Falls Compensation and Similar Accidents
Claims for restaurant falls compensation or any other type of slip, trip or fall accident should be made to the Injuries Board Ireland. It is advisable that a solicitor assist you with the submission of an application for assessment (Form A) – which can be done online or by hard copy – as someone unfamiliar with the procedure may run the risk of overlooking an important factor which could affect the final value of your slips, trips and falls compensation claim.
When your application for assessment, along with its supporting documents and payment, have been received by the Injuries Board, the restaurant or other negligent party will be contacted with a request for consent to proceed with the assessment for your slips, trips and falls compensation claim. At this point, you may be required to undergo a further medical examination so that the Injuries Board can evaluate how well (or not) your recovery is progressing.
Once your claim has been assessed, both you and the negligent party will be sent a Notice of Assessment by the Injuries Board which will be followed by an Order to Pay – if you and the negligent party agree on the amount assessed. If the Assessment is contested by either party for being too high or too low, or if the negligent party rejects consent at the start of your assessment, you will be issued with an authorisation by the Injuries Board to pursue your slips, trips and falls compensation claim through the courts.
Negotiation, Court Action and the Involvement of Insurance Companies
By engaging a solicitor from the very beginning of your claims process, he or she will be in a position to directly approach the negligent party’s insurance company in an attempt to negotiate a settlement of your claim at the same time the Injuries Board is assessing your application. If your solicitor is successful, you may receive a complete and satisfactory settlement for your slips, trips and falls compensation claim far sooner than if you waited for the Injuries Board to finalize its process – in which case the Injuries Board will be told and your application for assessment cancelled.
If, however, no agreement can be reached over the value of your claim for slips, trips and falls compensation, it will be necessary be move to court action. As your solicitor is unable to proceed with court action without the Injuries Board’s authorisation, the submission of your application for assessment at the first stages of your claim – even when there is a strong possibility of your claim being settled out-of-court – will shorten your wait for the authorisation from the Injuries Board.
Many insurance companies are willing to settle compensation claims for slips, trips and falls before court action becomes necessary – as there is a strong potential for high court expenses and the possibility of having sympathetic judge favouring the potential plaintiff. Be wary, however, of a direct approach by the negligent party’s insurance company, who may attempt to offer you an early settlement in the days after you sustained an injury in a trip in a restaurant accident
The negligent party’s reference to your accident in their accident report book may have caught the attention of their insurers – who, as a consequence, may offer you a settlement of compensation for a fall in a restaurant at a time when you are at your most vulnerable. Take note that the settlement they offer may not be a sufficient amount to adequately cover your medical costs or support your family – and should you accept, you can never return to them and ask for more.
Should you find yourself in this position, it is highly advisable that you consult a solicitor for their advice on whether the settlement offered by the insurance company is enough to reflect the impact that the fall in the restaurant had on your health and quality of life.
The Value of Compensation for a Slips, Trips and Falls Claim
The value of restaurant falls compensation or indeed, any other type of slip, trip and fall compensation claim, is measured against The Book of Quantum -a publication which lists a wide-ranging selection of injuries and assigns to them a financial value, which is then adjusted to consider your age, your general state of health prior to the accident and in some cases, your sex.
Any decline in your quality of life – if you cannot participate in leisure or social activities or perform day-to-day tasks because of your injuries – would also be compensated, and you may also qualify to claim compensation for any psychological trauma you may have suffered due to a particularly distressing accident. Any financial expenses or losses that you have incurred which can be attributed directly to the accident which caused your slip, trip or fall injuries, may also be reimbursed.
With so many variables, it is easy to comprehend that every claim made is unique; even when the injuries suffered are the same. Therefore, you would be well advised to discuss your individual circumstance with an expert solicitor and the earliest opportunity possible.
Advice for Slip, Trip and Fall Compensation Claims
Some scenarios relating to restaurant falls compensation or slip, trip and fall injuries – such as slip, trip and fall injuries to children and situations where you may have shared some of the blame for the cause of your accident because of your own lack of care – were not included in this article. It is advisable that you should ask any questions you may have about claiming slip, trip and fall compensation for an injury you sustained at the earliest moment possible before evidence of negligence is removed and memories of witnesses begin to fade.
Any questions you may have can be directed to an expert solicitor, most of whom will offer an initial evaluation of you claim for slip, trip and fall injuries. You may be eligible for reimbursement of any fees associated with pursuing legal action for injuries sustained in slip, trip or fall accident for which you were not responsible for, and a solicitor will be able to explain all of your queries when you call.
No two claims for slip, trip and fall compensation are ever identical. If you have sustained an injury due to a slip, trip or fall in a restaurant, and feel that you may have a potential slip, trip and fall claim it would certainly be in your best interests to discuss the points raised in this article with an expert solicitor as soon as practically possible.