Restaurant Negligence Compensation Claims Guide.
Aussies love a night out or a bit of fast food – so much so, that at the end of 2021, there were well over 50,000 cafes and restaurants in Australia.* But when you treat yourself to a night off cooking, the last thing you expect is to get injured. When we go to restaurants and cafes we put our trust in their management that they’ll do their best to keep us safe from injury.
But despite the relative safety of eating out, thousands of Australians sustain injuries in cafes and restaurants every year. As with any business, safety standards vary greatly, and while most businesses fulfil their safety obligations, some fall short. If you’re injured or become ill as a result of restaurant negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.
This guide tells you everything you need to know about restaurant negligence claims, for both customers and staff of restaurants in NSW, and how to claim compensation without taking any risk.
Restaurant injury and negligence claims.
Restaurant negligence typically occurs when an accident is caused by the negligent actions of a member of staff, and someone is injured or becomes ill. A key aspect is the restaurant duty of care to customers – a duty of care to keep customers safe from hazards that can cause accidents or illness. If that duty is breached and you’re injured, you might be able to make a restaurant injury claim against the venue’s public liability insurance.
On the other hand, if you’re working in the restaurant when you’re injured, you’re likely to be entitled to workers compensation. It’s important to note that if a restaurant or café employee is injured on the job, it doesn’t have to be caused by negligence to qualify for compensation, since workers compensation in NSW is a no-fault scheme. However, if negligence contributed to an employee’s injury, additional compensation may be available through a common law damages claim.
For example: If a diner is injured in a slip and fall in a restaurant caused by spilled liquid, but the restaurant staff were unaware of the spillage as it had just happened, then the diner may not have a public liability claim as the owner is unlikely to be found negligent. On the other hand, a staff member injured in the same circumstances is likely to be able to claim workers compensation as they were injured on the job.
Common reasons to sue a restaurant.
Slipping on wet or greasy floors.
Restaurant owners are obliged to have processes in place to make sure wet or greasy floors are cleaned up as soon as possible, and to put signs in place to warn customers and staff about slip hazards. Failure to deal with slip hazards promptly or a lack of safety procedures to deal with them is one of the most common reasons to sue a restaurant for injury.
Trips and falls.
Trips and falls in restaurants are also common, and are often caused by poor lighting, badly maintained stairways and faulty floors. This type of accident can lead to serious injury and potentially significant compensation payments. For more detailed information, read our article on slip, trip and fall claims.
Badly maintained toilet facilities.
It may sound unlikely that you can be injured going to the toilet at a restaurant, but the reality is that wet or flooded restaurant toilets are a common cause of slip and fall injuries.
Burn injuries in restaurants.
Staff training and safety guidelines come into play when handling hot food and hot drinks. Spilled food or hot drinks can lead to significant burn injuries and restaurant accident claims.
Can you sue for food poisoning at a restaurant?
Food poisoning can cause serious illness; however, it can be difficult to prove that a restaurant was responsible for food poisoning. Food poisoning compensation claims often result from a number of people becoming ill at the same time, providing compelling evidence that the restaurant was responsible.
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Slips and falls at restaurants – who’s responsible?
Slips and falls in restaurants, cafes and fast-food outlets are common, especially in busy environments where food and liquids are often spilled. But the restaurant or outlet can only be held responsible if it knew or should have known about the slip hazard and failed to clean it up or put up a sign warning their customers. And as a customer, you can only make a restaurant accident claim if you can prove the staff were responsible.
For example, if a drink was spilled and staff were told, but they left he spillage for a period of time without doing anything about it, then they’re likely to be held responsible if someone slips and is injured.
On the other hand, if a drink is spilled and a few seconds later someone slips and is injured, it’s very unlikely the restaurant staff would be held responsible as they had no opportunity to clean it up.
If you’ve been injured in a slip, trip or fall in a restaurant and you’re unsure who’s responsible or whether you can make a restaurant negligence claim, you can call 13 15 15 and get advice from a specialist personal injury lawyer. There’s no cost for this service.
I slipped and fell at McDonalds – can I claim compensation?
Slips and falls at McDonalds and other fast-food outlets are common as they tend to be busy environments where more spillages happen, and at busy times it may take longer for them to be cleaned up.
The same rules apply to McDonalds as any other restaurant – management has a duty of care to have processes in place to deal with spillages as quickly as possible to keep the customers safe from slip and fall hazards.
So, if you slip and fall at McDonalds, and you believe there’s evidence the staff had an opportunity to clean up the hazard that caused your accident, it’s very likely you can claim compensation for any losses you’ve incurred. These losses can include lost wages through time off work, as well as treatment and other expenses. If your injuries are serious, lump sum compensation may also be available to you.
What can I claim for?
Compensation payouts range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Depending on the severity of your injuries, the total compensation amount can include:
- Lost income – the amount of income you’ve lost through time off work.
- Medical expenses – resulting from your injuries.
- Travel expenses – to and from medical appointments and treatment.
- Domestic assistance – the cost of getting help with home duties.
- Pain and suffering – an amount to compensate you for your pain and suffering, based on the extent of your injuries.
- Permanent impairment – an amount to cover your loss of functionality or limitation of movement of a part of your body.
- Future losses – for example, your future earnings that you will miss out on as a result of your injuries.
- If you can’t work, you might also be entitled to a lump sum TPD payment through your super fund.
What to do when you get injured at a restaurant.
Here are some tips to help you build strong evidence for a restaurant negligence claim:
- Speak to the restaurant manager and report your accident.
- Take photographs of your injuries, the accident scene, and what caused your accident.
- Write down all the details you can remember about your accident.
- Look for CCTV cameras covering the accident scene.
- Get the contact information of any witnesses.
- Keep a record of any expenses caused by the accident (e.g. medical bills).
- Keep a record of any lost income if you can’t work because of the accident.
- Get a sick note from your employer if you can’t work because of the accident.
- Get an assessment and medical report from your doctor.
Regardless of whether you plan to make a claim, it’s a good idea to speak to a specialist public liability lawyer to understand your entitlements. You can 13 15 15 to get free legal advice.
How to sue a restaurant for negligence.
Here are the key steps to making a successful claim for restaurant injury compensation:
- Gather all the evidence you can of your accident. The more thorough the evidence, the more chance your claim will succeed.
- Have your injuries assessed by a doctor. You’ll need medical evidence such as scans and x-rays to prove what injuries you suffered from the accident.
- Once you’ve submitted a public liability claim, if the insurer accepts liability then it’s likely it will offer you a settlement payment. Many public liability claims are settled without the need for court action.
- If the insurer rejects liability or you’re unable to settle out of court, you may need to take court action to gain compensation for your losses.
You’ll have a much greater chance of success and you’re likely to get more compensation with specialist public liability lawyer on your side. At Law Partners, we have teams that specialise in public liability claims including restaurant negligence claims, and we can take care of the whole claim process for you. We win over 99% of our cases and we’ll fund your claim for you, so you only need to pay us after you receive your compensation.
Do I have a case?
Our senior lawyers will assess your case for free.