Man awarded nearly $350,000 after falling into culvert

Date: Aug 22, 2017

A man who suffered serious injuries after falling into an unfenced culvert at the side of a suburban road will receive $347,945, despite the liable council launching an appeal.

The plaintiff had been walking his dogs along Cairnes Road in Glenorie when he fell approximately three metres into a culvert that carried Glenorie Creek underneath the road.

He sustained fractures to his left wrist and hand, as well as his right ankle. The plaintiff also presented at Westmead Hospital with numerous soft-tissue damages and has since developed post-traumatic stress disorder because of the accident.

Original public liability claim and decision

The trial judge ruled that the council responsible for the maintenance of the culvert should have fenced off the area to prevent the risk of pedestrians falling.

As such, the council owed the plaintiff a duty of care and had breached this obligation due to negligence.

However, calculating the appropriate damages was tricky because of the man’s working history.

The plaintiff was employed in the IT industry before suffering from a mental breakdown. This incident, which occurred in 2000 or 2001, prevented him from returning to the workplace and he was subsequently diagnosed with major depression and anxiety.

Nevertheless, the plaintiff had been operating a gardening business since 2010 with the assistance of his wife.

The judge used Australian Bureau of Statistics data for average weekly earnings to estimate the man’s loss of past income due to his accident, resulting in a payment of $135,850. When future economic losses and other variables were accounted for, the final compensation order was for $380,640.

Council launches appeal

Following the result, the council launched an appeal, claiming that the original trial judge erred in his calculations by using average weekly earnings.

In fact, the council argued the man shouldn’t have received any compensation for past and future loss of earnings due to the fact he hadn’t worked full-time for a decade prior to his accident in 2011.

The appellate judges disagreed, although they did adjust the amount of future economic losses awarded due to a miscalculation in the original trial.

They reduced the man’s payout from $98,085 to $65,390 with regard to this issue, bringing the plaintiff’s damages down to $347,945.

Would you like to pursue a public liability claim? Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers are personal injury experts that can help you every step of the way with your case.

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