Assaulted by shop worker with highlighter – does the Civil Liability Act apply?

Date: Sep 07, 2018


A bizarre case from Tuggerah’s Westfield mall on the NSW Central Coast saw a supermarket worker assault a shopper with a highlighter pen. What are the details behind this odd event and what elements of the Civil Liability Act 2002 come into play here if the shopper decides to claim for public liability compensation?

The incident details

The victim was finishing her grocery shopping in Woolworths and took her trolley over to the self-service check out stations. She bent over her shopping trolley to start retrieving items and, from out of nowhere, the supermarket assistant allegedly slipped a highlighter down the back of her jeans. The victim was understandably humiliated, and quickly left the store. After reporting what had happened to her husband, the pair returned to the supermarket to speak to the floor manager.

The store worker claimed they knew the victim and that the action had been a joke. The shopper denied knowing the worker at all, saying their only interaction had been shared verbal greetings in the past. Following the incident, the team member was stood down while a thorough investigation was conducted.

How does the Civil Liability Act 2002 apply?

The victim has allegedly been in contact with a personal injury lawyer, who has advised her to seek compensation for psychological damages. Woolworths’ lawyers contacted the victim, offering an alternative repayment solution as they believe her claim wouldn’t’ meet the compensable thresholds of the Civil Liability Act 2002.

The Civil Liability Act 2002 stipulates victims’ rights to fair compensation for physical or psychological injury caused by the negligence of a professional entity, as well as for any income lost as a result of this harm. However, were her losses significant enough to warrant a compensation order?

The victim was undoubtedly embarrassed, but the onus is on her to prove that her non-economic loss was at least 15 per cent the severity of a most extreme case. The court uses several factors to determine this, including medical costs incurred and the surrounding circumstances of the case.

How can this help others with their public liability case?

While it’s indisputable that the victim was wronged due to the negligence of a business’ staff member, sustaining an injury in a public place doesn’t necessarily entitle you to compensation automatically. There are many factors to consider in every case, which is why public liability lawyers are vital for reducing case complexity to help your cause.

For more information on getting the legal help you need to fight your compensation case, contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts or email your enquiry.