When making a claim for compensation for injuries suffered in a slip in a supermarket it is critically important that you know what you slipped on. It is not the job of the Court to guess what caused a slip and fall – that is your job. If you slip and fall and are injured and want to claim compensation you are going to need to prove that something was left on the floor and that your foot came into contact with it and that you slipped on it. It is very difficult to mount any claim on the basis that you do not know what you slipped on. Compare for example the outcome in the following 2 cases:

Coles Supermarkets v Meneghello

In this case the customer leaned over into a cold shelf to pick out some dip and as she did so her foot slipped and she fell onto her right shoulder. When she got up she noticed two small pieces of cardboard on the floor in the vicinity of where she had slipped, one piece looking like a paddle pop stick. She sued Coles and claimed that she had slipped on the bits of cardboard and that Coles was negligent in not seeing these and cleaning them up.  The NSW Supreme Court was not happy with her allegation. The Judge said that there was no direct evidence that the customer’s foot had come into contact with the cardboard or that she had slipped on the cardboard and the simple fact that there was cardboard in the vicinity was simply not good enough. She lost her case.

Fitzsimmons v Coles Supermarkets

In this case the customer slipped on a wet floor. Interestingly Coles had already seen the wet floor and had put out three yellow warning signs. Coles argued that in putting out the signs that it had done enough to warn customers to steer clear of the wet area. The customer argued that Coles should have done more – that Coles should have had a staff member guarding the wet floor or have erected a barricade. The Court agreed with the customer and said that Coles should have done more. But the important factor was that the customer was able to prove that she had slipped on the wet floor. For example when she stood up her jeans were wet from the spillage on the floor. In addition she was in a hurry, carrying a child, and distracted by a quarrel with her partner, and therefore she may not have seen or appreciated the yellow warning signs. She won her case.

These NSW decisions are pretty much what we see in slip claims in Western Australia. It is critical that in any claim for compensation that you are able to prove what exactly you slipped on. By saying that you slipped and didn’t see what you slipped on, or, that you don’t know what you slipped on, or, that you must have slipped on something but don’t know what, that puts your claim at a serious disadvantage. If you have a slip accident at a supermarket the best thing to do is to take a photograph with your mobile phone and immediately report the accident to a store staff member.