Shopping Centre Slip and fall – significant compensation payout over $100,000

Published 19 Mar 2013

Ms X attended a shopping centre in the Hills region for the purpose of carrying out some shopping with her family. She arrived at the shopping centre shortly after 5.30 p.m. for the purpose of carrying out some late minute shopping. As she was walking along the common area between the various shops, unbeknownst to her there had been a seepage of water that had flowed out into the walkway area. She slipped and fell heavily on her right hand side sustaining significant injury to her shoulder.

Ms X was in shock and in a lot of pain after the slip fall injury. She reported it to centre management. Centre management advised her that the spillage had occurred as a result of a faulty fridge from one of the nearby shop owners. Centre management dissolved themselves of liability.

Ms X not knowing what to do sought legal advice. Ms X subsequently contacted and spoke to Reg Kolokossian of Gerard Malouf & Partners and an appointment was arranged. At that conference we obtained detailed instructions as to what had happened on the particular evening. It was clear that the shopping centre themselves were not going to take responsibility. Our initial view was that if there had been a seepage from one of the stores. The shopping centre, their cleaners and/or the store owners would ultimately be responsible. Ms X provided us with instructions to pursue a claim for compensation as a result of her injuries, the most significant being to her shoulder which was partially frozen. Fortunately for her, her work was of an administrative nature and notwithstanding pain and discomfort she continued to work. We subsequently forwarded correspondence to the various parties to request they advise as to whether they would be prepared to admit liability in the matter. Not surprisingly, we received a negative response from all parties resulting in us immediately commencing Court Proceedings. We subsequently obtained medical evidence in support of our client’s injuries. We also carried out investigations and ascertained that the shopping centre had cleaners that should have been in the area. The centre management was aware of the fault and it was clear that between the centre management, the cleaners and the shop owners, one of the three parties was either fully responsible or partially responsible.

Commonsense prevailed and all the parties agreed to mediate the matter and sit at a round table to discuss a resolution. This was the favoured position of Gerard Malouf & Partners who promoted and advocated that the parties proceed to a mediation to alleviate the need for extra Court costs and unnecessary fees that would have been incurred. A commonsense approach was taken and the matter finally resolved at a Mediation before a suitably qualified mediator.

Ms X who was very anxious and like all clients was weary about the process of proceeding to a Court Hearing, was very grateful that the matter was able to proceed by way of a Mediation. The matter finally settled for a figure well in excess of $100,000.00 to the satisfaction of our client. The settlement at least afforded her the opportunity of covering any time off she may have had from work, any future time off for further surgery that was anticipated and the cost of the surgery. As per usual, Gerard Malouf & Partners took instructions in the matter on a no-win/no-fee basis. Our costs were paid at the end of the matter and like all of our matters, our fees were reasonable and Ms X was happy to pay the agreed figure.

In the circumstances of Ms X’s claim, our costs amounted to approximately less than 15% of the total damages she obtained. The significant savings to Ms X in terms of costs was achieved by being proactive and aggressively litigating the matter and proceeding to a mediation so as no unnecessary Court costs and legal fees surrounding a Hearing were incurred.

This is the attitude adopted by all Solicitors at Gerard Malouf & Partners that is, minimise the costs to the clients and try to resolve matters early by being proactive and realistic.