In Australia, shopping centres are a popular destination for people of all ages, but accidents can happen. While you expect to be safe while browsing the stores, there are injury risks like wet and slippery floors, uneven surfaces, trip hazards and more.
If the unexpected happens and you are injured while shopping, it’s crucial to know what to do next, including the option to make a personal injury claim. This article discusses six essential steps to take after a shopping centre accident.
- Learn about the common causes and risks associated with shopping.
- The immediate actions to take following a public space accident.
- The recommended steps such as seeking medical attention, reporting the accident, gathering evidence, and consulting with legal professionals.
Common Shopping Centre Accidents and Potential Risks?
Accidents in shopping centres happen for several reasons, often at the worst possible time. You could have a slip accident, trip or fall over something, be hit by a falling object, or be involved in a collision with a moving vehicle, trolley, or other shopper.
These types of accidents can result in minor injuries like sprains, cuts, and bruises or severe damage like head trauma and spinal injuries. Knowing the potential dangers and the top tips for avoiding them is your best choice to avoid the obvious risk of harm.
|Type of Accident
|Slip and Fall Accidents
|These occur when the shopping centre has a wet or slippery surface, uneven flooring, or inadequate lighting.
|Fractures, sprains, brain injuries, spinal injuries, cuts, bruises, leg injury
|Tripping Over Hazards
|Tripping over obstacles such as loose carpeting, uneven flooring, or unsecured cords.
|Fractures, sprains, head injuries, cuts, bruises, soft tissue injuries, neck injuries
|Objects falling from shelves, displays, or ceilings.
|Head injuries, cuts, bruises
|Collisions with Other Shoppers or Vehicles
|Accidents involving collisions with other shoppers or vehicles in the shopping centre parking lot.
|Whiplash, fractures, head injuries, cuts, bruises
What Should You Do Immediately After a Shopping Centre Accident?
If you’re involved in a shopping centre accident, follow these steps:
- Stay calm and assess the situation. Check yourself and others for injuries.
- If anyone is hurt, call for medical help immediately.
- If possible, move to a safe location away from any potential hazards.
- Notify the shopping centre management or security staff about the incident.
1. Make an Injury Report
After your accident, first, make an injury report with the police (for severe injuries and death), centre management, the store manager or the owner. It would help if you remained at the accident scene as it contains vital evidence that could be cleaned or removed in your absence. Also, please know that a detailed incident report contains the
- incident date and time
- the type of accident
- description of injuries
- your contact details
- any other relevant information
Furthermore, you must include your opinion of what caused the injury, like a liquid spill, loose flooring, or broken tiles.
2. Get Medical Attention
Next, you should seek medical attention, even if you believe you have minor injuries. Some harm (like whiplash and other soft tissue damage) takes time to develop and can worsen if left untreated. Also, you may need an ambulance and hospital admission with x-rays and scans for severe accidents to begin your treatment and recovery.
Furthermore, your doctor or specialist will record your injuries, which will be essential when pursuing a shopping centre injury claim.
3. Collect Evidence
The next step after a shopping centre accident is to collect evidence, which is vital for a successful claim. Generally, receiving a compensation payout relies on proving who was the at-fault party for your injuries. To do this, you will need evidence like:
- Photos and videos: Take pics of the accident scene, including any hazards that helped cause the incident. Also, take a video that shows the entire area, including the absence of warning signs, insufficient signage, uneven flooring, wet floors etc.
- Witnesses: Get contact information from anyone who saw the accident happen or the immediate aftermath. They could provide helpful testimony.
- Medical records: Keep all your treatment records, including hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, receipts, and medication prescriptions.
4. Save Medical Receipts
Recovery from a shopping centre injury can result in substantial medical expenses. You may need to pay for ambulance transport, specialist doctors, physiotherapy, rehab, and aids like a wheelchair or crutches. Please save your treatment receipts, which help establish your loss and legal damages. Also, these are included in your compensation when you have a successful public liability claim.
5. Check for CCTV Footage
Although they may not be obvious, there is a network of CCTV cameras in Australian stores and shopping centres. Request a copy of the surveillance video if it covers your incident. Once you have legal representation, you could also ask your personal injury lawyer to assist with this request.
6. Hire a Public Liability Lawyer
You must know your legal rights when you have an accident at a shopping centre. In Australia, all public space and venue owners and operators must take reasonable steps to ensure your safety while using their premises.
This obligation is known as the duty of care.
Here are some situations where you may need help from a legal professional:
- If your injuries need ongoing medical treatment or have resulted in long-term disabilities.
- When your physical or psychological condition stops you from working
- You have had to pay medical bills, travel costs, or lost income due to your injuries.
- If the shopping centre, store, or its employees’ negligent actions (or inaction) contributed to the accident.
In this case, an expert compensation lawyer will help you navigate the claims process and complex public liability laws to ensure fair compensation.
How Much Can I Claim for a Shopping Centre Accident?
The value of a shopping centre accident claim depends on the injury severity of how much it has changed your life. To determine how much you receive in a lump sum payout, litigation lawyers and insurance companies consider ‘heads of damages’. These compensation factors include:
- Medical costs – past and future
- Lost wages and superannuation
- Family and friends provided home care.
- Your pain and suffering and lost enjoyment of life.
For most Australian public liability claims, the liable parties will use your life path before and after the accident to assign a monetary value. However, if you are partially to blame for the incident, you will have reduced compensation based on contributory negligence. Typically, your lawyer will work to reduce your level of contribution to achieve your best result.
Case Study: Sarah’s Experience
Sarah was browsing in a busy shopping centre on a Saturday morning when a wet surface caused her to fall and injure her back. Thankfully, although she was hurt, she still managed to take photos of the slippery floor that caused her tumble. Her next step was to visit her doctor after reporting the incident to centre management.
Following her diagnosis, Sarah had to take time off work to recover, but she was concerned with the medical bills and lost wages, so she wisely decided to get legal help for her case.
Chatting with her lawyer helped Sarah understand her legal rights and the steps required to make a successful claim. Her legal team used the gathered information to compile strong evidence against the shopping centre. Due to their hard work and her actions, the public liability insurance company paid compensation that covered Sarah’s costs, including her emotional trauma.
In Sarah’s case, reliable legal advice was the key to winning a claim payout and returning to her usual routine.
Top Tips for Avoiding Shopping Accidents
- Instead of looking at your phone, be aware of your surroundings and potential injury risks.
- When you are injured, visit a medical clinic immediately.
- Get as much evidence as possible when building a solid case.
- Consult with a personal injury law firm to know your options for claiming compensation.
Undoubtedly, being injured in a shopping centre accident is traumatic; however, following these six crucial steps can protect yourself and your rights. Please remember to focus on your safety and your surroundings to avoid being harmed when browsing or buying in stores. If the unexpected happens and you have an accident, please follow our recommended steps, including getting legal support.