You’ve worked hard to build up your business; you have a sense of pride in what you do, how you do it and how the business is perceived in the market. Therefore it is not unusual when a business owner receives a claim against them to take this as a personal affront that says their business practices are not up to a high standard. But this scenario is not always the case and you may simply be a victim of circumstances.
This may occur when someone injures themselves on or about the business premises, commonly known as a ‘slip and fall’. There have been cases argued in courts referring to the duty of care one has to their customers and the public in general.
One notable case was an argument over when it would have been practical for a dropped potato chip in a shopping centre food court be noticed by a cleaner. This caused much discussion because a member of the public had in fact slipped on it but the argument continued around the food court scenario. Where did the chip come from, what was it doing on the ground as a hazard and how long had it been there?
The argument of time proved crucial, because the duty of care of the shopping centre and food court cleaning staff meant that dropped food should not remain there but the argument continued over how long it had been there unattended – for 5 minutes, 15 minutes or longer?
Another example recently was in a fruit market with various stall holders and the case of a rogue plum. Someone slipped on it and it couldn’t be identified how it got there and from where this plum originated. An insurance claim was submitted and the stallholder who happened to sell other produce (but no plums) ended up involved and submitting a claim because the incident took place nearest to his stall.
The point is, especially in shopping centres and areas of high pedestrian traffic, slip and fall accidents are commonplace and the business owner must be prudent in providing a safe environment for staff, customers and general public. Footpath dining is another hazard contribution with dropped food, spilt drink or the increasing trend of small dogs on tight leads in the path of café customers and other pedestrians.