Shopping centre slip and fall. Who has to pay compensation?

In this matter we represented an elderly lady. She suffered injuries to her shoulder after a Queensland shopping centre slip and fall. A slip and fall accident is often called a public liability claim.


The shopping centre was owned by one of Australia’s largest commercial property managers. 


Cleaning in the shopping was done by a subcontracted cleaning company. 


It is important to know that a shopping centre manager owes a duty of care to entrants.


A cleaning company also owes a duty of care.


You can claim compensation from either one of these companies if they have breached their duty of care and this caused injuries.


The accident

The accident happened on a rainy day. 


Just after entering the shopping centre through the automatic doors, our client slipped and fell on the wet tiles. Interestingly, there was a “caution wet” sign in the area, but this was inadequate (for the reasons explained below).



Our investigations

Our client hired us very shortly after the accident. As a result, we were able to immediately obtain CC Tv footage about what happened. 


Our investigations revealed that: 


  • People had been bringing in water on there clothes and on their umbrellas for over an hour before the accident
  • The tile on which the accident happened was wet 
  • Precisely 6 seconds before the accident a cleaner passed through the area, observed water on the tile, but failed to wipe it up
  • Indeed, the tiles in question had not been wiped dry at all 
  • The tiles were 30 years old. 
  • Prior slip testing showed that the tiles were slippery and hazardous when wet. They didn’t meet Australian Standards.
  • After the accident, the owners installed a large permanent mat to cover the wet tiles. 


Our strategy

We decided to claim compensation from both the shopping centre manager and the cleaning company.


There are advantages in claiming from two entities:


  • You increase the chance of settlement. Both have insurance so there is more money on the table
  • You ensure that each entity that the court may find liable is a defendant in the same proceeding.


Hard fought litigation

Initially both the shopping centre and the cleaning company tried to vigorously defend the matter.


The first settlement meeting was over a year after the accident. 


At the first settlement meeting, the shopping centre and the cleaning company offered zero to our client


The defendants alleged that the accident was somehow our client’s fault. 


They also alleged that maybe our client did not slip at all, but rather she fell because of some pre existing medical condition (an allegation which was completely unproven). 


We believed that the defendant’s approach was wholly unreasonable and requested the court to order a second settlement meeting which the court did. 


Eventually, our client was awarded $45,000 in compensation.