Is it possible to claim compensation for slipping on a spilled drink in McDonalds? I slipped on coffee which was spilt on the top of the steps, but didn’t see it as I was looking for a table.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

You are certainly within your rights to claim compensation for slipping on spilled drink in McDonalds if you sustained an injury in the accident. However a claim for slipping on a spilled drink in McDonalds will only be possible if you can establish and prove McDonalds were negligent by allowing a hazard to be present which represented a risk of injury for an unreasonable period of time.

Although a spilled drink in McDonalds represents a slip hazard, the fact that there was spilled coffee on the floor does not necessarily mean that the staff were negligent. Usually spilled drinks on the floor will only be considered to involve negligence if the store staff failed to spot the hazard and remove it in a reasonable time frame.

A restaurant manager has a legal responsibility to ensure that the restaurant is safe for customers at all times and regular inspections of the premises must be made to identify potential hazards. The staff should be trained on how to identify hazards and to take prompt action. This means placing a warning sign over a hazard if it cannot be immediately dealt with and arranging for cleaning to take place as a priority.

If this did not occur in an acceptable time frame, it would be considered to be a failure in the duty of care owed to customers and there would be a strong likelihood of successfully recovering compensation for slipping on spilled drink in McDonald.

McDonalds is usually particularly attentive to the cleanliness of its restaurants. The staff perform regular cleaning duties and restaurant checks, and usually keep a record of all cleaning duties and when these take place. The cleaning logs will need to be requested in order to establish the length of time that had passed since the restaurant was last cleaned.

It will also help your case if you have contact details of any witnesses who would be able to confirm whether there was a member of staff present in the upper seating area. If there were no staff in that area, it may not have been possible for a quick response to clean up the spilled drink. If a member of staff was present, they may have been negligent for failing to identify the hazard and take action in a reasonable time frame.

A claim for slipping on a spilled drink in McDonalds may become complicated if McDonalds believe there was a degree of contributory negligence on your part; such as failing to see the hazard. They may maintain that any ‘reasonably attentive’ person should have noticed the hazard and avoided the spilt coffee.

Should this happen, the Injuries Board will not receive the consent they need to assess your claim for slipping on a spilled drink in McDonalds and litigation through the Irish Courts might be necessary in order to recover compensation for your injuries. A solicitor will then need to be used to litigate through the courts or to negotiate a settlement directly with McDonald’s insurers.

As claims for compensation for slipping on a spilled drink may be rejected by the restaurant, and often involve contributory negligence, we recommend speaking with a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible to discuss your case.