Case Study: Strained Ligaments Following Slip in Supermarket

Mrs P Was Awarded £2,750 Compensation

JMW has successfully helped a woman acquire £2,750 compensation after she strained her ligaments slipping in a supermarket.

Slip in the supermarket

Sixty four year old Mrs P was on her way home ahead of an evening celebrating her birthday with her husband when she visited her local supermarket to pick up some shopping.  As she was walking down one of the aisles in the store, she fell to the floor.  When she attempted to get up, Mrs P’s shoe fell off and she noted that it was covered in a cream-like substance which appeared to be all over the aisle. 

Resulting injuries

As well as spoiling her birthday celebrations due to the upset the accident caused, Mrs P noticed a growing back pain during the days following the accident.  She decided to visit her GP, who diagnosed her with strained ligaments in her back, neck and shoulder blade on her left hand side, and prescribed her with strong painkillers to help alleviate her suffering. 

Over the next few weeks, Mrs P experienced problems driving her car as she was unable to turn properly and reverse.  This caused Mrs P trouble with her duties as the main carer for her father.  Mrs P was in a great deal of pain and taking a range of painkillers to lessen it. 

Legal advice

It was during this time that Mrs P decided to seek compensation for her accident, and she was put in touch with JMW Solicitors LLP, where Jane Bedford McLaren handled her case.  Mrs P was particularly upset at the way she had been treated by the store; she felt that a large organisation that sees customer service as one of its values should and could have been more aware of the potential for the accident to happen, how she had been injured and her subsequent recovery. 

Supermarket denies responsibility

The supermarket denied responsibility for Mrs P’s accident because it claimed that it had a reasonable and effective system of cleaning and inspection in place, with all of the staff being trained in the store’s “Clean As You Go” policy, which dictates staff should be vigilant regarding spillages and potential hazards at all times.  It also claimed that in store cleaners responsible for checking hazards and spillages were in place, with the store being checked hourly, and that during the time of the accident, the store was in the middle of a general tidying process that required all staff to be present on the shop floor. 

However, upon requesting maintenance and other recorded information relevant to the case, it was firstly discovered that store’s records that supposedly demonstrated whether or not an area had been checked and found to be properly maintained consisted of nothing more than a tick box sheet, no thorough proof that the area had been checked. 

Further, the supermarket had a policy that a member of staff should not leave a spillage unattended and that someone should be left “on guard” at the spillage until cleaning equipment is obtained to clean it up.  Mrs P’s experience was that two members of staff were nearby, stacking shelves, but neither had attempted to guard the spillage, and both remarked words to the effect of “Haven’t they cleared that up yet?” after Mrs P had fallen.  There was also no warning sign in place around the substance and no other indication that shoppers may face a hazard. 

Evidence and medical assessment

Jane therefore challenged the supermarket’s denial of responsibility.  The evidence Jane had for Mrs P’s case demonstrated that the store had clearly been negligent in its duties to its customers. 

After contacting JMW, Jane arranged for Mrs P to visit an Orthopaedic Surgeon to have her injuries assessed and her recovery period estimated.  The Surgeon estimated that Mrs P’s injuries should be resolved in a period of time between 6 and 12 months.  As the supermarket continued to deny responsibility, Jane was forced to issue court proceedings against them.  She was able to use the information obtained from the Orthopaedic Surgeon, and the figures that Mrs P had provided her for expenses she had incurred as a result of the accident, to put together a figure that represented a reasonable amount of compensation for the supermarket to offer to Mrs P.  She then made an offer to settle the case, with the authority of Mrs P, which the supermarket’s solicitors rejected. 

In order to prepare for a potential court dispute, the court directed us to exchange our collated evidence with the supermarket’s solicitors.  We prepared a detailed witness statement from Mrs P that accurately recounted her accident, encounters with the store’s staff and her subsequent recovery process.  Jane was also keen to see the witness evidence from the supermarket’s staff as it was clear that this would be very important to the outcome of the case. 

Although our evidence and that of the supermarket’s solicitors, should have been exchanged on a particular date (given to both Jane and the supermarket’s solicitors by the court), the supermarket’s solicitors were unable to provide their evidence in the timeframe provided, and so we informed them that if the case did go to court, we would object to them to relying on any witness statements or other documents (such as evidence of their “housekeeping staff rota”) that they had failed to provide at the appropriate time beforehand.  We also informed them that we were not willing to exchange our evidence with them until they were able to exchange evidence with us by return.  Arranging to exchange evidence on a certain day, when both the claimant and the defendant’s evidence is ready, is standard procedure in a case where the defendant (in this case, the supermarket) is denying responsibility for an accident. 


The supermarket’s solicitors eventually provided the evidence, which included two witness statements from staff employed at the supermarket.  However, these witness statements made reference to other witness statements that would have proven important to the case, which were not with the evidence we were given.  Jane examined the available evidence and statements and did not feel that the evidence the supermarket’s solicitors provided was particularly helpful to their case, therefore putting her in a good position to bargain with them for a reasonable settlement on Mrs P’s behalf.  After some discussion between the two sides, the supermarket made Jane an offer to settle the case.  This offer was close to Jane’s original offer, so, after a considered discussion on the case, Mrs P chose to accept the offer and conclude her case. 

Have you also been injured in a supermarket?

If so, you could be eligible to make a claim. Call us on 0800 054 6570 or fill in our contact form to discuss whether you have a case, and get some free, no obligation advice.

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