Injury at supermarket in Western Sydney results in significant compensation payout

Published 29 Aug 2014

Our client a pensioner in her sixties attended a supermarket in Western Sydney and sustained injuries when she slipped and fell heavily to the ground and received significant compensation for those injuries. Our client in 2012 had attended the supermarket store and was trying to carry out some shopping. She was looking at the shelves at the time when unbeknownst to her there had been a spillage of a liquid substance on the floor that had not been cleaned up in time.

Our client slipped and fell heavily to the ground sustaining injuries to her neck, right arm and upper back. The insurer of the shopping centre was a well known liability insurer who in the normal course of their investigation sought particulars from us. We had also requested they provide us with CCTV footage however, they declined to make that available. Our client’s fall was witnessed by a lady who had also been shopping close by so there was no issue in terms of the fact that our client did fall within their shopping centre. In a lot of instances shopping centres do not readily admit the fact that a client may have fallen unless it has been immediately brought to their attention.

One of the other failings of shopping centres generally is that whilst they say they may have CCTV footage for security purposes it is a rare occurrence that such footage is made available or in fact works. Our client was not in any gainful employment and in fact assisted her family by looking after the grandchildren cooking and generally being a support to her children and grandchildren.

Our client’s injuries were not disabling but she does have to endure significant pain, discomfort and restriction on a daily basis however, at varying degrees.

To the credit of the shopping centre and their staff they did come to our client’s assistance and gave her a chair and an icepack. This was fortunate also because they too were able to witness the fact that the liquid substance had been spilled over a significant distance of over 3 or 4 metres.

Our proactive approach at Gerard Malouf & Partners meant that we do not delay the claims and we commence proceedings within a short period of time. We obtained medical reports from our client’s treating Doctors and qualified our own independent medical specialists to examine our client and provide a report. The insurance company also qualified their own Solicitors and within a short period of time after providing them with further particulars and medical reports we proceeded to organise a settlement conference.

We had also qualified one of our liability experts to attend the supermarket in question to carry out general observations in relation to the cleaning standards employed by the management of the supermarket. Needless to say, our liability expert in his preliminary report found that there was no proper system in place and that the staff there were not as vigilant in ensuring spillages and debris had been cleaned up immediately as what the supermarket management tried to imply was in fact the case.

Not surprising our client was quite anxious and did not want to go to a Court Hearing. This is not unusual as most individuals are intimidated by the prospect of having to go to Court. It is for this reason that Gerard Malouf & Partners have a very strict policy in bringing matters to a resolution without incurring the extra cost of having to go to a Hearing. Most insurance companies and their Solicitors are of like mind as they too do not want to expend significant costs and risk in adverse finding against them.

Ultimately, a settlement conference by way of mediation was organised and the parties adopted a common sense approach to settlement which results in a win/win.

Public Liability claims need to be run efficiently and systematically. Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation Lawyers have over many years implemented an aggressive policy with regards to the preparation of all public liability and personal injury litigation matters so as to minimise the anxiety to our clients, reduce the costs and come to an early resolution without the stress of going to Court.