Slip and trip claims, also known as public liability claims, are most often made by people who’ve suffered falls on slippery or uneven surfaces.

Some of the more common causes of slip and fall claims include

  • potholes
  • damaged pavements
  • wet floors with no warnings
  • tree roots grown through tarmac

banana peel

When can you file a claim?

Being injured in a fall in a public area does not automatically meant that you now qualify to claim for damages.

However, injuries that require medical treatment – as opposed to, say, a bruise or light scrape – are more likely to lead to your being recompensed in some way.

A common misconception is that erecting a “slippery floor” or “uneven surface” warning sign absolves the owner of the sign-posted space from any responsibility in the event of injuries.

However, even with a sign in place, this individual is expected to resolve the potential hazard, drying, cleaning or

evening out the ground in the affected area, within a reasonable period of time.

If no action is taken and someone is injured, the owner may be liable, and subject to legal action.

hazard sign

What damages may be awarded

Damages awarded in slip and trip cases can be substantial.

For example, an American tourist at a Pretoria safari lodge made a slip and trip claim that resulted in the establishment paying him out a total of R13 million.

Among the factors that contribute to the damages awarded in a successful slip and trip claim are

  • the pain and distress caused by the injury sustained
  • associated costs and losses following any disability
  • lost earnings due to time off work
  • costs of medical treatment and post-accident recuperative care
  • restrictions posed by the injury on your usual activities and social life
  • general expenses, for example for painkillers, transportation and so on

Sprained ankle

What you need for a successful claim

You can expect a claim to be successful only if you make it not long after the relevant incident.

The best practice is to record the incident with the relevant authority where it occurred;

if the accident happened on a public space like a pavement or when crossing the road,

you may have to report it to a government authority, such as the highway or transport department.

If you fall somewhere privately owned, such as in a store or mall, you should contact the manager on duty.

Also find out if the establishment has public liability insurance, as many will do.

Those that don’t may be subject to further penalties.

It is essential to have a written description of what happened and to sign this only once you’re completely in agreement with the way events are described.

This will be an essential tool in your legal arsenal in court proceedings.

Luckily for some, a select few law firms provide their service on a generous “no win, no pay” basis,

meaning that even if you don’t manage to gather all necessary details following an incident, you’re at no risk of losing out by pursuing the claim.

Featured images:

License: Creative Commons

image source

License: Creative Commons image source

License: Creative Commons image source

Post provided courtesy of Jeff, a South African author and frequent legal blogger.