Accident in a Public Place*

Restaurant Accident and Illness Claims*

If you or a family member have been involved in a restaurant accident* it is imperative that you talk to a solicitor to obtain advice in relation to possibly bringing a personal injuries claim.

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Involved in a Restaurant Accident?

In Ireland, a large percentage of the population dine out at least once a week. When we visit a restaurant we expect it to be a risk-free and safe environment but this is not always the case. Due to the busy environment of a restaurant, accidents can be quite common and can range from dropping plates and cutlery to accidents* caused by faulty equipment or furniture. The most common type of restaurant accidents* are slip and fall accidents* which can happen to both customers and employees.

Restaurant owners and managers should have a duty of care to both staff and customers to ensure that their health and safety is a priority. A breach of this responsibility can lead to accident and injury* which can create long-term problems in some cases. It is their duty to ensure that they are not exposed to risks and hazards. Occupiers’ negligence is the main cause of restaurant accidents and illness as they have failed to adhere to the regulations and duties which should have been followed. Reasonable steps need to be taken to ensure that all hazards are identified and eliminated as soon as possible. If it is the case that an accident has occurred as a result of occupiers’ negligence then you may be entitled to make a claim.

Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995

This Act states that an occupier of a premises owes a reasonable level of duty of care towards a visitor. They should ensure the safety of all visitors and take certain steps to ensure that there are no potential risks of accident, injuries or illness on their premises. Restaurant owners should carry out frequent risk assessments so as to identify any potential hazards in the building. These should then be eliminated. It is also important to ensure that all equipment, machinery and furniture are of a high standard and this should be replaced regularly due to wear and tear over time.

Who is Liable?

If you have been injured in a restaurant accident* and have decided that you want to make a claim then you will need to determine who was at fault for the accident. In order to proceed with a claim*, the accident must have been caused by somebody else who acted in a negligent manner. If you were the main cause of the accident then you will not be entitled to pursue a claim for the injuries* you sustained as a result.

There can be a number of people responsible for an accident in a restaurant. In general, most claims are made against the manager or occupier of the restaurant who failed to have the adequate health and safety measures in place. An occupier has a responsibility to ensure that both staff and visitors to the premises are kept safe and their safety should be their first priority. They also need to ensure that they provide staff with the necessary training needed in order to carry out the job correctly and minimise the risk of accidents happening.

Accidents can also be caused by employees who failed to act efficiently. They have not cleaned up a spillage as quickly as they should or may not have ensured that there were no hazards on the ground which may lead to a potential injury.

Other members of the public may also have caused the accident if they acted in a negligent manner. It is important to note that it is not just an owner who has a duty of care but also all those who visit the restaurant at any time. Members of the public have a duty of care to both employees and other customers to act in a way which does not put the safety of others at risk.

Common Restaurant Accident Injuries

A restaurant accident* can cause a serious injury whether you have an accident at work or sustain an injury while you are a customer in a pub or bar. Some common types include:

Common Causes of Restaurant Accidents*

Common causes range from restaurant owners negligence to staff negligence as well as faulty or poorly maintained furniture, facilities or building. Some of the most common complaints are:

  • Wet floors
  • Trip and fall
  • Lack of training in manual handling and health and safety
  • Faulty or broken furniture and equipment
  • Food poisoning
  • Broken glass
  • Spillages of hot food and drinks
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Uncooked food
  • Excessive noise
  • Obstructions in walkways
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals and substances

Spillages

It is imperative that spillages are cleaned up immediately from the floors and wet floor signs are put in place to help prevent people from falling. In events where a spillage was not cleaned up, or a wet floor sign was not in place whilst or just after cleaning a spillage, the restaurant could be seen to be liable for the accident*. Toilet areas can be particularly dangerous if they are tiled and the tiles become wet. If not cleaned or a wet floor sign not in place, people may fall and injure themselves.

Tripping and Falling

Tripping and falling accidents* are common in cases where a restaurant has poor lighting, uneven floors or badly maintained walkways. In some cases, a staff member may leave an object out on the floor which would act as an obstruction to a person’s pathway causing them to trip and fall.

Lack of Training in Manual Handling and Health and Safety

This is generally an accident associated with restaurant employees who have not received the adequate training in relation to manual handling. All employers should ensure that all of their staff have the correct training to carry out their job. Incorrect manual handling can lead to injury which may leave the injured person out of work for a period of time.

Faulty or Broken Furniture and Equipment

As restaurants are used by a large number of people, furniture may become broken quicker due to more wear and tear. If restaurant furniture is not updated regularly it can become faulty causing injury and accidents*. Broken furniture can collapse suddenly causing back injuries and broken bones.

Food Poisoning*

Food Poisoning is a common illness which is caused by eating contaminated foods. Also known as foodborne illness, it can have serious consequences as it weakens the general health of a person, especially if symptoms persist. Restaurants must serve food at a certain standard, one that is prepared in the correct manner, stored in the correct manner and fit for human consumption. There are basic hygiene requirements that are expected of a restaurant when these basic requirements are not met, this can affect the customers eating the food. Cross contamination is a common cause of food poisoning, whereby raw meat is stored with cooked food. In these situations, bacteria from the raw meat can contaminate the cooked food, which can lead to food poisoning.

Common causes of food poisoning are:

  • Cross-contamination
  • Unhygienic kitchen facilities
  • Kitchen equipment that is not cleaned properly or regularly
  • Untrained kitchen staff
  • Inexperienced staff handling food

What do I do if I'm involved in a restaurant accident*?

Following an accident in a restaurant, there are a number of steps you should follow:

  1. Seek medical attention

    Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after an accident, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries. Then check if anybody else involved in the accident needs medical attention. If anybody has sustained a serious injury, ensure that you contact an ambulance to attend the scene.

    You must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to a more serious injury in the future. In this case, it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) or local GP to be checked out.

  2. Report the accident to the manager on duty

    It is important that you report the accident to management. You may be required to assist to fill in an accident form. This is to provide them details of how the accident occurred and details of the injury. You should also request that they preserve any CCTV footage.

  3. Identify any witnesses

    Collect contact details of any witnessess to the accident – their names and contact information.

  4. Document the incident

    It is important that you collect all the relevant information in connection with your accident:

    • How the accident happened, time and date of the accident.
    • Details of any witnesses to the accident (Including staff and other customers); their names, contact information.
    • If there are any CCTV recordings of the accident.
    • Take pictures from different angles of where the accident happened and what caused you to slip, trip or fall.
    • Take pictures of any injuries you suffered, this will help your solicitor to understand how the accident happened.
  5. Speak to a personal injury solicitor*

    If you are considering moving forward with a claim* for any personal injuries sustained, it is advisable that you speak with a public place accident claims solicitor* as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment. A solicitor* can help you prepare your application to the Injuries Board and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.

    It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or incident report forms where possible as you will need them when making a claim.

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How do I make a claim?

Once you have gathered most of the relevant information in relation to your injury it is then time to move forward with your claim. It is important to use a specialist public place accident* solicitor to help you with this.

  1. Prepare information for a solicitor

    When you decide you want to move forward with your claim* it is important to have as much as possible of the relevant information to hand when contacting a solicitor. Some of the important information to have on hand at this point is:

    • Date of the accident
    • Location of the accident
    • Details of who/what caused the accident
    • Specifics of what happened
    • Who did you report the accident to?
    • Is there CCTV that may have captured the accident
    • Details of your injuries
    • Details of hospital or GP attended
    • Any pictures you may have taken of the scene of the accident and/or your injuries
  2. Solicitor becomes your trusted advisor

    As a solicitor is aware of the claims process they can avoid any legal bumps in the road you might encounter if you looked after this matter yourself. It is their job to be your trusted advisor on all legal matters throughout your case.

  3. Solicitor obtains a medical report

    One of the most important document in your case is a medical report. Your solicitor will ask for your doctor’s or hospital details so he can obtain a report on your injuries. This report will then be used to allow us progress your case.

  4. Solicitor prepares the Injuries Board application

    As soon as your solicitor has gathered all the information, your accident claim* will be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board for assessment. Your solicitor will do this for you. Once the Injuries Board assess your claim your solicitor will revert with a suggested settlement amount. At this stage you have a choice to accept the Injuries Board assessment or reject it and move to the next steps.

    At this point one of two scenarios will unfold:

    a. If both you and the other party accept the Injuries Board assessment, your case is settled and the person at fault will be ordered to pay settlement to you.

    b. If either you or the other party reject the Injuries Board assessment, then you move to the next stage and your solicitor will issue legal proceedings.

  5. Possible case outcomes

    Before you start to concern yourself with court and everything that comes with it, it’s important to understand that only a very small percentage of cases actually make it to a courtroom.

    Settlement meetings will be arranged where a settlement can be negotiated. Most cases are settled at this point prior to a court hearing date without you ever having to step foot into a courtroom and remember it’s your solicitor’s job to be with you every step of the way, right beside you to ensure that your best interests are met at all stages. Your solicitor is to be your trusted advisor throughout the process and this allows you to focus on your recovery, as they focus on settling your case.

At Tracey’s we make law accessible to all – regardless of your knowledge or experience with the claims process. For more information and a confidential discussion on your accident, phone 01 649 9900 or email ask@traceysolicitors.ie to tell us about your case, where you can speak with a member of our team straight away.

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Case Settlement

If you are to proceed with a restaurant accident or illness claim* you may be entitled to recoup costs to you as a result of the accident. This is along with added expenses you may have incurred, these claims are called damages:

General Damages

General damages are non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following an accident*.

Special Damages

Out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of an accident in a restuarant. For example, loss of earnings, medical bills, and added travel costs as a result of the accident, for example, travel to and from a hospital. Learn more about Special Damages

What are the Legal Time Limits?

The statute of limitations are the legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim — these vary depending on the situation. The general rule for most personal injury cases* is that the person has two years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge of the accident* to make a claim for compensation. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.

Learn more about Time Limits

About Tracey Solicitors

We draw on more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law to provide you with expert advice and legal services.

We’re here to help you with your claim, and will work with you to ensure you understand every step of your legal journey.

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