Business owners blamed for compensation cases

Business owners are falling down on the job of ensuring their premises are safe — causing customers to suffer a similar fate.

The Injuries Board directed the payment of just under €44m compensation in public liability cases last year, the majority for injuries suffered in slips, trips and falls in public places.

Common causes included wet floors and other poorly maintained surfaces and often the accidents happened in supermarkets, sports clubs, gyms, cinemas and hairdressers.

Stephen Watkins, corporate services director at the Injuries Board, said the trend should serve as a warning to business people and others responsible for maintaining public areas.

“A lot of the claims we get are for accidents that you could say are preventable. It’s fairly basic stuff a lot of the time — keeping public areas clear and dry for example.

“The message would be that people who own these premises should take greater steps to ensure that there are no obvious hazards for other people entering those premises because ultimately it costs them and the injured person if there is an accident.”

The warning is not just for commercial operators as a significant number of this kind of accident happened on uneven or broken pavements and around drains and manholes, generally the responsibility of local authorities.

And while slips, trips and falls accounted for 67% of public liability awards last year, there are a whole variety of things that can go wrong.

One in 20 (5%) of the awards were for accidents involving falling or flying objects; 2%involved animals, including dog attacks and bites, bull attacks, being trampled by a horse and collisions between cyclists and dogs.

Even the most mundane of chores can have painful results as the cases last year included injuries from supermarket trolleys and baskets.

Public liability awards made up 17% of all the awards made in 2013. Motor liability was by far the most common kind of case, accounting for 75% of all claims, while 8% involved employer liability.

In total the Injuries Board made 10,656 awards last year, directing compensation payments totalling €243.5m. On average 90% of respondents and about 70% of claimants accept the board’s determination while others choose to pursue the matter through the courts or settle privately.

As in previous years, women accounted for a far higher proportion of public liability claims than men, making 71.4% of claims in this category. The average award was €25,120 but at least one award topped €200,000.

For the third consecutive year, Saturday was the most common day for accidents in public places while for the second year running, Tuesday was the safest day.

July saw the highest number of accidents for a single month while January saw the least — a trend that has continued for the last three years.


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