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Slipped over at a shopping centre? – The 20 Minute Warning

If you’ve slipped over at a supermarket or shopping centre and sustained a personal injury, your ability to be successful in claiming compensation under public liability insurance can depend on one single element: when did the spillage occur? 

In Queensland, the standard for cleaning rotations of publicly used spaces (such as shopping centres) is 15-20 minutes. This standard was set in 2012 by the High Court case of Strong v Woolworths Limited (trading as Big W).

In Strong, the incident area had not been inspected for several hours when the plaintiff slipped and injured themself. The High Court found that Woolworths had therefore breached their duty of care for failing to have an adequate cleaning system in place.

The court also said that Woolworths could have discharged their liability by implementing a system of inspection and cleaning with 15-20 minute rotation intervals. Such a simple solution could have prevented the incident and injury from occurring. Accordingly, shopping centres and cleaning companies alike are usually aware of the High Court’s decision and endeavour to inspect (and clean if necessary) all areas of public places in 15-20 minute rotations.

The learning from this case is that if the spillage occurred less than 20 minutes prior to your fall (and had not yet been inspected by cleaning staff), your chances of being successful in a public liability claim for personal injuries are reduced dramatically. 

If you have slipped over at a public place, the first step in determining whether you have a winning claim is to review any CCTV footage to identify whether or not a cleaner had inspected the area, and what time the spillage occurred.

Related: Read our 4-Step Guide on What to Do After a Slip and Fall

Making a Slip and Fall Claim

Making a personal injury claim for a slip and fall is typically brought against the property occupier who usually has public liability insurance. Public liability claims for slip and falls are governed by the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld). The legislation is complex so injured claimants should not attempt to navigate it without seeking legal advice.

Shopping centres may also be reluctant or unwilling to provide security footage to you directly, so if you require assistance obtaining the CCTV to review the shopping centre’s liability, contact us at Roche Legal for assistance.

This commentary is published by Roche Legal for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as specific advice. The content relates to Queensland law only and is subject to change over time. You should seek legal advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any decision.