I fell down on wet stairs in an office and want to claim compensation for breaking my ankle; however my employer said that I cannot claim as the floor was wet because it had been raining outside and it was not his fault. Is this true?
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief
In order for a claim for having fell down on wet stairs in an office to be made, your employer must have been negligent and failed in a duty of care which resulted in you breaking your ankle. Failing to ensure that the office stairs could be used safely by staff in all weather conditions could certainly involve negligence and a failure in a duty of care.
Your employer cannot control the weather and might not be able to prevent external stairs from becoming wet, but it is within his control to ensure that when it is raining the internal office stairs can still be used safely. However you will only be eligible to claim compensation if you can prove that you fell down on wet stairs in an office and your employer was ultimately to blame.
There are a number of ways in which your employer could have been negligent and could be to blame for you having fell down on wet stairs in an office. If your employer was aware that in wet weather conditions that the stairs became wet, slippery and unsafe and did nothing to reduce the risk of a slip and fall on wet office stairs, this could certainly be considered to be negligence.
You would not need to establish that this was the case only that any ‘reasonable person’ would have known that the stairs were dangerous when it had been raining and would have taken action to reduce the risk of slipping on wet office stairs. Even purchasing a door mat and informing staff to wipe their feet could be a control measure which could easily be employed to reduce the risk of the stairs becoming wet.
If the stairs or stair covering was in a poor state of repair, and this made the stairs slippery when wet, your employer may be deemed to be negligent for failing to make repairs. It is possible that the choice of material used for the steps was not appropriate. Marble steps for instance are easy to maintain and have aesthetic appeal, but they can be incredibly slippery when rain walked into the office building causes them to become wet. Your employer may be deemed to have been negligent for choosing aesthetics over the safety of employees in his choice of tiles for the stairs.
It is not possible to tell you with the information provided whether you are eligible to claim compensation for having fell down on wet stairs in an office. You should therefore speak with a personal injury solicitor in order to confirm whether you have a valid claim for slip injury compensation against your employer which is worth your while to pursue.