Today I read the scary story of a young child who pushed a mirror in a Marks & Spencer store and the mirror fell on top of him. The young lad, Adam Ballard of Swansea, clearly sustained injuries and understandably his mother who was with him was frantic at the time and is very concerned that he might now be left with facial scaring.
When I say pushing a mirror I am sure that this young lad was not pushing the mirror very hard. I can imagine this one of the mirrors that is fixed to a wall. We have all seen them in Marks & Spencer. They are a number of feet in length and are effectively a full length mirror. It is not unusual for children to make faces in the mirrors. We have all done the same when we were younger. Our children do the same now.
Occupiers such as Marks & Spencer who allow people into their store have a duty of care. I have indicated this before the extent of this duty in a previous blog and how an occupier has to act reasonably in ensuring that the area on which they allow someone to walk is reasonably safe. Without question this applies to a shop such as Marks & Spencer.
I anticipate in this case that the mirror was not correctly fitted to the wall. I doubt very much whether the young lad in question would have pushed especially hard on the mirror to be able to dislodge this from its fittings and I would be very surprised if Marks & Spencer do not concede liability at an early stage.
They may wish to raise an issue with contractors if they were employed to fit the mirror but it is not a question for the youngster or for his mother to consider. His claim will lay directly with Marks & Spencer.
Whether this little boy makes a good recovery remains to be seen. We all certainly hope he does and wish him well. Scarring settles depending upon where is on the body and can take as long as 12 months to settle. Whilst this boy is still young and therefore has a better chance of a good recovery then someone who is my age, it will be an important to assess not only the extent of the scar that he had been left with but also whether he has sustained any psychiatric injury as a result.
Equally, the mother should consider whether she has a psychiatric injury and therefore a claim which may not be easy to establish but could follow given the circumstances of the accident.
We cannot guard against our children having accidents despite our best endeavours. What we should expect however, is that others do not make our lives considerably more difficult.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Slater and Gordon Lawyers.
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