Woman sues store for $320,000 after slipping on grape
A SUNSHINE Coast woman is suing Woolworths for $320,000 after she claimed she slipped on a grape at its Tewantin store.
Brisbane injury compensation law expert Mark O'Connor says the case has raised public focus on the whole issue of slip and fall lawsuits.
Woolworths is querying whether the accident even happened and Mr O'Connor said people making such claims need to ensure they can prove it as insurers are taking a more hard-line stance against such claims now.
Mr O'Connor, a Director of Brisbane law firm Bennett & Philp Lawyers, said slip and fall claims are perceived as a 'bread and butter' item in the injury compensation world.
But often a payout for something like a supermarket spill can come down to one thing- should the supermarket have known of the hazard and was any attempt made to remove it?
In her claim with the District Court in Brisbane, Andrea Downie says she injured her back in the fall and has aggravated an existing case of post-traumatic stress disorder and adjustment disorder.
She claims the injuries have stopped her from returning to work.
But Woolworths has countered stating it's uncertain whether the accident even happened stating if the fall occurred as alleged by Ms Downie, it was not reported to anyone at Woolworths on the day.
Mr O'Connor, who is not acting in this claim, said most supermarkets operated an effective cleaning and risk removal system, but the real issue in a case like this is whether the store knew or ought to have known of the risk and ignored it.
"Retail outlets don't necessarily have to operate foolproof, 100 per cent risk free environments.
"The issue is how they react to threats like loose grapes or liquid spills. The majority of supermarkets have regular cleaning systems but given the risks of customers dislodging items there needs to be constant inspection by the stores," he said.
Mr O'Connor said every case is unique and claimants need to appreciate insurers will pursue a claimant's medical records for the previous three years to test for pre-existing conditions.
A person's individual circumstances will determine the size of a settlement to be recovered by a successful claimant.