A council in Sutherland has launched an appeal against a public liability claim that resulted in a woman receiving $288,820 in personal injury compensation.
The woman slipped on a wet auditorium floor, twisting her right ankle enough to fracture the bone and damage the surrounding soft tissues. The incident left her with permanent pain in her ankle, notable weight gain due to inactivity and general unhappiness that affected her work and motivation.
How did the accident happen?
On the day of the accident, heavy rainfall had occurred and people were tracking water onto the auditorium’s parquetry flooring. The trial judge ruled that the council had been negligent in failing to provide adequate storage facilities close to the entrance for coats, umbrellas and bags.
This inevitably led to people walking across the foyer with wet items, which dripped water onto the floor. Indeed, several other patrons and employees had slipped in similar circumstances in previous months and years.
The judge said a reasonable person in the council’s position would have foreseen the risk posed to individuals walking across the floor and ensured a number of safety measures, including providing:
- Appropriately placed umbrella storage with signs;
- Umbrella bagging facilities;
- Absorbent mats on the parquetry flooring;
- Wet raincoat and bagging areas; and
- Regular mopping rotas to remove wet patches.
Why did the council appeal?
The council argued the original judge erred in a number of ways, including him finding the organisation negligent for failing to take safety precautions and whether this led to the accident for which compensation was claimed.
However, the appellate judges dismissed the appeal and reaffirmed the trial verdict.
“It was not enough for the appellant to do effectively nothing in response to the clear, known risk of patrons slipping on the wet parquetry floor,” said Justice Robert Macfarlan in summation.
“It was obvious that the day was very wet and that water was being brought into the auditorium on wet umbrellas and coats. Yet, the appellant did no more than provide an unmarked bin for umbrellas in a relatively remote location.”
The woman will still receive $288,820 compensation, as well as receiving costs for fighting the appeal from the council.
Pursuing a public liability claim
Not all public liability claims reach a courtroom, but plaintiffs should be prepared for individuals and organisations to refuse a settlement. In this instance, the negligent party even launched an appeal in an attempt to avoid paying damages.
However, with an experienced personal injury legal team fighting your corner, you have the best possible chance of ensuring you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
Contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to find out how we can help.