Penrith Shopping Centre and its cleaners ordered to pay customer substantial damages as a result of an accident in the fire stairwell

Published 05 Jun 2018

Our client was a customer attending Penrith Shopping Centre in Greater Western Sydney and as she was walking down the staircase to the car park, when she slipped and fell and suffered serious injuries. The floor was slippery and full of rubbish on the stairs. The owners of the Penrith Shopping Centre had the care, management and control of the shopping centre. They had also contracted a cleaning company to clean the premises including the common law areas pursuant to a services cleaning agreement.

Our client was a lawful entrant and shopper upon the premises for the purposes of purchasing some takeaway food at the time of the accident. As she was walking back to her car using the concrete fire stairwell on the upper level of the premises, she slipped and fell and sustained serious injuries. Our client noted that the stairs were not in a good condition and there was rubbish strewn throughout the stairs. Our client’s accident was reported to the owners of the shopping centre.

It was alleged that the owners and the cleaners ought to have ensured that the stairwell was free from hazard such as rubbish and spillages and should have either been clean and/or have warning signs to warn entrants and customers. It was also alleged that the owners and the cleaners owed our client a duty of care to ensure that the premises were free from risk of harm and that duty extended to taking reasonable care to avoid our client suffering harm. The risk of our client suffering harm was foreseeable and it was not insignificant in the circumstances.

 

It was alleged that a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have taken reasonable precautions against the risk of harm. It was further alleged that they were both negligent in the breach of that duty of care in causing our client’s injuries, losses and damages. Some of the issues of the particulars of negligence was that they failed to ensure that the premises were adequately inspected, failed to ensure that they were adequately cleaned, failed to supervise the contracted cleaner to ensure that they complied with the cleaning contract applications and allowed our client and customers to use the fire stairs when they were not fit for access way between levels.

As a result of the accident, our client suffered a head injury, severe concussion, neck injury, spinal cord injury, back injury, injury to her shoulders/back, psychological injury and shock. Our client was referred to hospital for treatment. She had the x-rays and was referred to specialist treatment because of the ongoing nature of her head symptoms, concussion and physical incapacity. Her injuries reduced her capacity to participate in normal social, domestic, recreational, sporting and employment activities.

At the time of the accident, our client was undertaking administrative type employment duties and she was unable to return to her pre-injury employment duties for a number of months. When she did return to her pre-injury employment duties, she was only able to undertake work a number of days per week. Our client was educated and had a tertiary degree with a high distinction average. It was clear that her injuries, continuing disabilities and symptoms were as a consequence of the accident. It was determined that our client will not be fit for her pre-injury employment duties and would only be fit for suitable type employment duties on the open labour market. A claim was submitted for future economic loss for the rest of her working life.

Her damages included a claim for permanent impairment and pain and suffering, past and future treatment expenses, past and future loss of wages, past and future loss of superannuation, domestic care and assistance and legal costs.

We arranged for our client to be independently medically examined and assessed. Our doctors had determined that she did suffer from permanent injuries and sequelae as a result of the accident. Our client’s condition was not stable for a significant period of time whilst she continued to receive medical treatment from her doctors and specialists. She also attended to be medically examined at the request of the insurers for the shopping centre and the cleaners. Once her condition had been stabilised we were able to proceed further with the matter. We launched legal proceedings against the owners and the cleaners of the shopping centre. They denied liability in negligence. We obtained a liability expert report which substantiated the particulars of negligence against the shopping centre and the cleaners.

After detailed particulars of the nature and extent of our clients claim were provided to the shopping centre and the cleaners, the parties arranged for informal settlement discussions to discuss the liability and medial issues towards resolving the claim. It was ordered that both the owners and the cleaners pay our client a substantial award in damages in compensation, plus legal costs in respect of her permanent injuries, losses and damages arising from the accident. Both defendant’s agreed an equal share to pay our client a substantial award of damages arising from the accident. She was very pleased with the outcome of the matter.

Conclusion

If you are a shopper or customer who is attending a shopping centre and you suffer an injury on their premises due to their negligence, you may be entitled to receive damages in compensation for your injuries, losses and suffered as a result of that accident.

In this case, our client was a lawful entrant, customer and shopper of the shopping centre and that upon her return, she was injured when descending a set of internal fire stairs from the shopping centre to the carpark. The stairs were littered with rubbish and it was our contention that the stairs were not fit for access between levels for customers of the shopping centre due to their condition. Our client was awarded substantial damages in negligence as a result of the negligence of the owners and the cleaners of the premises.

For a free, no obligation consultation, please contact our toll free number 1300 768 780 so that an appointment can be arranged for you to attend our office to protect your legal rights arising out of any accident that you have suffered as a result of another parties negligence.