Scotland's Personal Injury Court awards claimant over £41,000 after shopping centre slip

People in the atrium of a building, seen from above

A sheriff at the All-Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court has awarded over £41,000 to a woman who sustained serious injuries in a slipping accident at a shopping centre in Cumbernauld.

On 7 November 2015 the woman was within the store at the Antonine Shopping Centre in Cumbernauld. It was a wet day. The floor had a tiled surface. She was walking towards the exit doors to make her way to the car park. In so doing, she walked on a mat, which had been laid on the floor, near the doors. However, the mat did not fully cover the entrance area, leaving a gap adjacent to the exit, which was tiled. As she was walking on the mat, towards the doors, she was looking in her handbag for her car keys. As she walked off the mat, on to the tiled area, she slipped on moisture which was present on the floor. As a result she fell and sustained a severe injury to her left knee, leg, and foot.

The sheriff found the tiled floor at the entrance of the premises presented a slipping hazard to visitors when wet, the state of the premises was hazardous by reason of moisture on the floor, the occupiers of the shopping centre knew or ought to have known that if moisture was on the floor it represented a hazard to persons walking on it, and the occupiers failed to take reasonable precautions to eliminate or reduce that risk. In the circumstances the sheriff concluded the accident was caused by the fault and negligence at common law of the occupiers and by their breach of the Occupiers Liability (Scotland) Act 1960 in failing to take reasonable care for the woman’s safety.

The occupiers argued that the woman contributed to the accident by failing to take reasonable care for her own safety in that she was looking in her handbag for her car keys and not paying attention to where she was putting her feet. They sought a reduction in the award of between one quarter and one third. The sheriff rejected that argument. He found that even had she been looking ahead, she may have noticed that the mat came to an end, but it was not an obvious hazard. There was no means of getting to the door other than by walking over the tiles. He therefore concluded that her momentary inadvertence did not contribute to her slipping in any way.

What are occupiers liability claims?

Compensation claims for injuries caused by accidents that happened on property or land owned or controlled by someone else are called occupiers liability claims. People and organisations who own or control land or property are known as occupiers. They have a duty of care to ensure the safety of people on their land or property, as set out in the Occupiers Liability (Scotland) Act 1960. Occupiers must assess and mitigate any hazards and defects. If accidents occur as a result of the hazardous or defective condition of the land or property, the occupier may be liable for any injuries resulting from the accident.

Occupiers liability claims often involve accidents on property or land not controlled by the injured person or their employer. In addition to business places, property or land includes many other types of premises, such as shopping centres, supermarkets, building sites, offices, schools, playgrounds and swimming pools as well as mobile premises such as buses, trains, planes and ships. Many occupiers liability claims are for workers injured while working on premises not controlled by their employer.

If you have been injured and are interested in pursuing an occupiers liability claim for compensation, please contact us today for a confidential discussion.

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