Easter is just around the corner and I’m sure you are getting ready to head to the shopping centre to hunt down the perfect chocolate gifts for your loved ones. You wouldn’t think that a simple trip to the shopping centre would need any caution from us but when you navigate those beautiful, shiny and glossy tiles of the shopping malls, you may need to watch your step.

Despite the huge volume of customers who walk through Shopping centres each and every day, shopping centre developers insist on using the glossiest, most shiny (and slippery) tiles as their flooring choice (you can almost see your reflection in them!). In this way, they seem to value aesthetics over safety which has led to many slip and fall personal injury claims over the years. One example that stands out is the famous slip injury case caused by a single, humble potato chip.

In 2004, Kathryn Strong who was an amputee walking with the aid of crutches fell heavily to the floor in an area under the care and control of Woolworths after one of her crutches unluckily landed on a greasy hot potato chip. She suffered a severe spinal injury and sued Woolworths for failing to adequately clean the area, with the last cleaning inspection being performed over 4 hours before the accident! She was awarded over AUD$588,000 in damages through her personal injury claim.

Because of ongoing argument about whether or not Woolworths had a proper cleaning system in place, the potato chip case made its way through the court system, making its way all the way up to the High Court of Australia (which is the highest Court in Australia!). The court ruled that Woolworths failed to take reasonable care as they did not inspect and remove slipping hazards every 20 minutes and if they had this system in place, Ms Strong would not have fallen.

The case was quite memorable as we saw esteemed high court judges arguing about “when does a reasonable person eat hot potato chips during the day?” because this would determine whether Woolworths had not cleaned the floor within a 20-minute interval period or not. The judges agreed that people don’t just eat chips for lunch – they eat them as snacks in the morning (and even for breakfast!). So, it was decided by the Court that the floor must have been left uncleaned for an extended period of time, more than 20 minutes, due to the presence of the potato chip on the floor.

So, stay on your toes while you hunt down the best gifts for Easter and watch your step!