People shopping in a shopping centre
People shopping in a shopping centre

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Accidents that happen on someone else’s premises

It could be the supermarket, local shop, department store, stadium or venue, garage forecourt, cinema or leisure complex, the list is potentially endless, if you are injured whilst visiting a premises which is either privately owned or managed we define these type of claims as Occupier’s Liability.

The law is clear, if you own or run a business which invites people to enter the land that you occupy then you have a duty of care to ensure that the premises is free from hazards, pollution or anything which could cause harm. Obviously, each type of business will have different definitions of what constitutes a hazard, a farm will be very different from a supermarket and you need to consider the environment and what is reasonable to expect - this would be covered in a risk assessment.

As the business you must ensure adequate safety regimes, signage and risk assessments have been considered before you allow a member of the public to enter. If an accident does occurred it should be recorded in your accident book, slip or fall, for example, safety procedures can then be examined and if failings are found then rightful compensation can be sought by the injured party.

If the incident happened on the pavement or road next to the shop or premises then this would be defined as Public Liability.

How does Digby Brown investigate an Occupier’s Liability case?

Occupiers are legally obligated to conduct risk assessments, record hazards and document efforts to address them. These vital steps follow The Occupier’s Liability (Scotland) Act 1960 which was specifically drafted to prevent accidents and ensure people can go about their daily lives with minimal risk.

But if prevention hasn’t worked and an accident has happened then a careful analysis of these steps can help injured people seek compensation and recover damages for their loss and suffering. So if you came to Digby Brown to investigate your accident then there’s a few crucial facts that your solicitor will seek to pin down:

  • What is the occupier’s routine process for reporting hazards?
  • Was this particular hazard reported or known to the occupier?
  • What did the occupier do to address the hazard – and if any repair work was carried out by a third party then who did it?
  • If nothing was done to address the hazard then why not? (And who made that decision and why?)

If your solicitor discovers an act of negligence within any of these steps then it may be possible to help you make a occupiers liability claim.

How Occupier’s Liability applies in different situations

As explained above, business owners have a duty of care to the public when they are on their premises. But occupiers are also required to have special insurance policies in place to protect themselves, and the public, from accidents.

Below are some of the most common ones to give you a rough idea of how the law can be applied.

Car parks

Whether a private estate like a golf club or a city centre multi-storey, there are more risks at car parks than just vehicles pulling out in front of you. Loose manhole covers, slippery floors or even poorly lit conditions can lead to accidents.

But what is crucial to remember is that all these kinds of hazards are avoidable if the right prevention and maintenance work is carried out. So if someone was injured after tripping over a loose manhole cover then we’d investigate the occupier using the four key steps in the hope of securing you rightful damages.

In a similar case our Inverness team helped Mrs Anderson secure damages after she fell while walking along a car park’s muddy pavement that we argued should have been cleared by the occupiers.

Supermarkets & shops

Spillages on the floor, faulty signage, broken objects like bottles or poorly stacked items are common hazards in shops and supermarkets. So, if for example there’s a burst bottle of juice in the aisle then a shop employee should seek to clean the affected area as fast as possible after they become aware of it so people don’t slip and potentially fall. If they do not clean the affected area then this can become a accident in shop claim. 

It is not enough to simply put out the yellow hazard cone we’re all familiar with to alert of a slippery floor and then just leave it there. If there’s a hazard then we believe the whole affected area should be cordoned off and cleaned within a sensible timeframe. We know spillages and breakages do happen in supermarkets, it is about how they have then dealt with it once they have been made aware that there is an issue.

To understand more you just need to look at the case of Mrs S – we helped her secure £7,000 in damages after she fell in a supermarket.

Adverse weather

Bad weather can be tricky to raise a claim against. While the law says an occupier must take reasonable precautions to minimise risk there are times when the courts have been sympathetic and said occupiers were not to blame.

The easiest way to explain this is maybe to imagine a train station platform in winter…

Occupiers must take reasonable steps to ensure the ground is cleared of snow and ice and if they fail to do this they could open themselves up to a personal injury claim if someone fell on an icy patch.

However the courts also acknowledge that occupiers are faced with many problems in addressing wintery conditions such as access to grit or the need for accurate weather forecasts. This means that if there was a sudden freeze overnight and someone fell the following morning then it is unlikely the occupier could be blamed because how could they have foreseen a sudden cold snap?

Cold weather and occupiers liability cases can be tricky to navigate but this is why you need an experienced and independent personal injury solicitor to investigate your case – and thankfully it’s something Digby Brown Solicitors is well-versed in.

Is it the same if I travel on holiday abroad?

Yes. Your rights do not end at the Scottish border. Wherever you travel businesses and occupiers are required to keep people safe. If you are a Scot travelling abroad and you’re injured at a hotel then it may be possible to have your case handled using Scots law.

We can also help foreign nationals who have been injured in Scotland during their stay here. For example, we helped Gwen Kent recover damages after she fell in a hotel after slipping on water that leaked from a cleaning machine.

No win, no fee personal injury solicitors

The expression “No win, no fee” is often used in personal injury cases.  It is used as a way of funding a compensation claim where the accident victim does not have the means to pay for the costs involved as the case progresses. 

A number of solicitors are prepared to handle personal injury cases on a “No Win – No Fee” basis but very few are able to offer their clients complete protection if the case is unsuccessful. 

In that event, the client could end up being liable for many thousands of pounds in legal expenses or the case won't be fully investigated and therefore likely to under-settle.

Compensate 'no win, no fee' funding

Digby Brown has its own funding company, Compensate, which provides the funding to allow the case to be fully investigated, employ the best experts surrounding the circumstances of the accident and/or injuries sustained and where and if necessary go to court.

If for whatever reason the case is unsuccessful, Compensate pays all your legal expenses and those of your opponent – you pay nothing

On average our clients receive over 3 times the pre-litigation offer

Because of Compensate funding Digby Brown's success rate is extremely high and on average our clients receive three times the pre-litigation offer.

In the event the case is successful, a small percentage of your damages will be deducted with VAT to pay for this service. The percentage which Compensate will charge depends on the degree of risk involved. We believe that this is the fairest method of giving clients access to justice whilst ensuring their cases are fully investigated, prepared and funded.

Don’t take our word for it, just read many of the court decisions and case studies on our website.

Beware of compensation offers which may be too good

We know you will have seen many adverts offering 100% compensation or telling you that you will not lose any of your compensation, however we believe there are a number of problems with companies that do this.

  • How do they make their money if they don’t charge you anything?
  • If they aren’t taking any money from you, the client, what incentive do they have to ensure you receive the right level of compensation, appropriate to the injuries you have sustained?
  • Fully preparing a case, finding out exactly what happened and what the consequences of your injuries may mean in the long term, is expensive, how do they do this properly?
  • If they aren’t fully preparing these cases will they just accept the first offer they are given on your behalf by the Insurance company?
  • It makes simple business sense, the less work they do the higher their profit margin is - they simply have no incentive to work harder on your behalf.
  • These adverts in the main are from English firms on national television which operates in a different way and therefore wouldn’t apply to a Scottish person.

We know from the many client cases we mandate from other firms of solicitors (in the main at the request of the client who is extremely unsatisfied with the service received for the other firm) that many shortcuts are taken in preparation and that the first offer received is being recommended for acceptance, regardless of the value. 

Getting something for nothing is usually the first sign of poor service.

Correct level of compensation with Digby Brown

Our experience and statistics show time and time again we will achieve the correct level of compensation which will be substantially more than the insurer is initially prepared to offer.

Even after we have deducted our percentage as a success fee you will gain considerably more than you would have achieved using a 100% compensation model.

Contact Digby Brown's personal injury solicitors

We have offices across Scotland in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Kirkcaldy, Inverness, Aberdeen and Ayr.

For further information about no win, no fee, or anything else, call us on 0333 200 5925 or fill in our enquiry form below and someone will get back in touch with you.

How do I know if I’ve been hurt in an Occupier’s Liability case?

Simply put, you don’t. All you need to do when you contact our Legal Enquiry Team is to provide us with the details of your accident and your injury. We’ll do the rest.

We will explain how we will fund you case. We work on a no win no fee basis. This means there are no upfront costs and no risks should the case be unsuccessful. You can read in more detail how this works here.

We will explain the process of how we make the claim on your behalf and how we assess, with the help of a number of medical and industry expects, what your losses are and therefore what level of financial compensation we are seeking on your behalf. The process is explained here. The team can be contacted at any time by simply filling in our enquiry form or you can call us between 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 12 noon to 4pm over the weekend.

0333 200 5926

Monday to Friday: 8am - 8pm 
Saturday and Sunday: 12pm - 4pm

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