Published on
May 25, 2022

Mitigating the cost of trip and fall accidents in shopping malls

Register for our webinar - Using AI to mitigate the cost of trip and falls in shopping centres, Thursday 23 June at 11am (AEST)

Slips, trips and falls are bad news for retailers and shopping mall operators. Regardless of the preventative measures taken, there’s always the risk of an accident. Claims for injuries caused by trips and falls at retail centres are on the rise, and fraudulent claims are not uncommon. How can surveillance operators and security guards help the public and protect retail centres? Read on to find out more.

What causes slip and fall accidents in shopping malls

Retailers, building managers and shopping mall operators have a duty of care to shoppers, employees, and the general public. If someone falls in a retail store and the accident was caused by negligence or carelessness of the business, then the mall is responsible for the accident. If the accident was not due to a breach of duty of care, then the building manager is not responsible. 

Common causes of accidents resulting in falls at shopping malls include:

  • Food and beverage spills
  • Recently waxed or mopped floors
  • Wet floors due to weather or leaking roof
  • Improper footwear
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Clutter
  • Car park potholes
  • Defective footpaths
  • Torn or loose flooring, including carpeting
  • Poor or uneven lighting.

If the victim of a fall can prove the building owner or manager was negligent, they can make a claim against the property and sue for damages. Once insurance companies and lawyers get involved, it can cost the building owner a lot to defend themselves, even if the claim is bogus.

The high cost of slip, trip and fall accidents

According to the Australian Institute ofHealth and Welfare, falls are the largest contributor to hospitalised injuries in Australia. The most current statistics (2018–2019) show 43% of hospitalised injuries and 39%of injury deaths were due to falls. Of those, more than half of the hospitalisations were caused by slips, trips and falls that occurred on a single level.

According to the World Health Organization(WHO), approximately 37.3 million falls are severe enough to require medical attention every year.An estimated 684,000 fatal falls occur each year, making falls the second leading cause of unintentional death, after traffic injuries.

The financial costs of fall-related injuries are substantial – and that’s before lawyers get involved. According to WHO, the average health system cost per fall injury for people 65 years or older in Australia is AUD $1460.

Trip and fall accidents are big business

It’s hard to substantiate exact costs of slip and fall accidents, but when you consider the number of lawyers specialising in personal injuries, you know it’s a lucrative market. Law firms report different statistics for injury payouts, but common figures include:

  • Average slip and fall settlements run between US$10,000 andUS$50,000 in the USA.
  • Average slip and trip claims in Australia fall between $40,000 and$100,000.
  • Compensation for slip and fall injuries in a shop runs between £13,000 and £190,000[SM1] in the UK.
  • In the USA, the millions paid out annually in settlements are compounded by the $50billion spent on health care every year in America to treat slips, trips, and falls. A sizeable portion of these accidents occur in shopping malls and retail stores.

When someone in the general public is involved in a slip and fall accident in your retail store, the settlement your insurance company negotiates on your behalf could include a long list of expenses, including:

  • medical bills
  • lost income
  • travel expenses  
  • domestic assistance and carers wages
  • pain and suffering
  • permanent impairment
  • loss of future wages.

Slip and fall lawyers also look for ways to boost the value of each claim, especially if a slip and fall injury leads to other problems in the future. Examples of this include a leg injury that leads to a limp that causes hip and back problems. A good lawyer will include everything they can to increase the overall payout and their cut of the settlement.

How to protect your retail business from slip and fall claims

The first step is to make certain you haven’t been negligent in providing a safe environment for shoppers, employees, and suppliers. But ensuring you have a safe retail shop is no longer enough.You have to be prepared to prove you’re compliant with safety regulations, including properly signposting hazards like wet floors. Increasingly, slip and fall lawyers know that mitigating evidence is captured by CCTV surveillance cameras, so they’ve changed their tactics. Lawyers intentionally lodge claims well after the typical 30-day video data retention period because they know it’s much harder to prove compliance if you no longer have proof of the accident as it occurred.

Why you need to save your surveillance data

In many jurisdictions, personal injury claims can be filed years after the event happens. In some places, the clock starts ticking only after an injury is discovered, which could be some time after the incident occurred.

  • Slip and fall claims in Australia and the UK can be made up to three years from the date of the accident.
  • In the USA, the statute of limitations varies from one to six years, depending on the state.

This extended period for filing a claim is why it’s so critical for retailers and shopping mall operators to have a way to identify and store security camera footage of unusual events or accidents.

How icetana helps retailers respond to slip, trip and fall accidents

icetana is operational in more than 30shopping malls and transforms the responsiveness of centre staff to potential injuries as well as protect owners from claims that might be litigated. Because icetana uses AI to detect patterns of movement, it’s able to predict when something out of the ordinary is happening or about to occur.

icetana captures the most interesting 1% of footage that happens in front of surveillance cameras. Due to icetana’s focus on unexpected or unusual events, it’s more likely than other surveillance systems to detect accidents and expose potential fraudsters.

Discouraging false injury claims

Trips and falls are regularly captured by our shopping centre clients and this data is stored and retained over an extended period for legal purposes. Once claimants and personal injury lawyers know you have this capability, they are less likely to file complaints against your retail business.

Reducing insurance costs

Another benefit is insurance brokers and insurance companies know you are better able to defend yourself from bogus claims. This gives you bargaining power when negotiating terms with your insurers.

For more information about mitigating costs of slip and fall accidents

Consider a longer-term video event detection and storage solution for trip and fall events at your retail properties. Contact icetana to find out how to successfully defend claims against you, negotiate lower insurance premiums, and lower your excesses and deductible payments.

Find out how icetana can improve your security and safety