Hotel faces public liability claim for foot injury

Date: May 29, 2015

A hotel in Bathurst has been subject to legal action, after a woman claims that she damaged her left knee as a result of an unguarded drainway on its premises. The incident occurred in February 2001, when the plaintiff fell and twisted her foot, which resulted in a fracture and bruising.

She argues that she is now facing some "residual disability" as a direct outcome of the incident, for which she is pursuing a public liability injury claim.

At the original hearing, the hotel was found to have been liable for the incident and the woman was awarded $456,500 in compensation. However, the matter is now being heard in the Court of Appeal as the hotel believes the assessment of the plaintiff's loss should be reconsidered.

It is challenging the medical expert's assessment that the meniscal tear that has occurred since the incident in the plaintiff's knee was a result of the accident. Should the appeal judge not rule in the woman's favour, her damages will need to be recalculated.

A medical expert reflected on the woman's state of health at the hearing, acknowledging that it does have the potential to worsen over time.

Orthopaedic surgeon Neil Berry commented: "On the basis of today's examination, the patient is fit for her current clerical work. She would have some difficulty over the next 18 months to two years carrying out work requiring prolonged standing, wearing high heel shoes and walking up and down stairs and slopes."

However, he also offered an insight into her long-term prognosis and suggested that the woman should have no trouble in eventually returning to a complete state of health. A structured rehabilitation program was recommended to ensure she would fully recover.

No challenge was issued by the hotel to her previous reward for past economic loss. This was valued at $7,550, which included an allowance for superannuation payments. Nevertheless, the woman believes she should receive compensation for future economic loss, which the hotel owners disagree with.

The appeal court judge stated that the plaintiff should be awarded out-of-pocket expenses totalling $73,800. No costs relating to the trial or the appeal have so far been established, but both parties were given a 14-day period to come to an agreement.

If a decision is reached, then consent orders can be put together by the registrar. Should this not be the case, the appellant will put forward written submissions, to which the respondent has seven days to reply.

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