Man fails to win public liability claim after workplace injury

Date: Jul 20, 2015

A man who recently pursued a public liability claim against the owners of his employer’s commercial premises has had an appeal on the case overturned.

The plaintiff, a forklift driver, suffered injuries after stepping from his vehicle into a crack in the concrete. He got his foot trapped in the hole and rolled his ankle.

Gaps in the concrete had been evident for some time and the man had informed his employer of the problem, although nothing was done at the time.

Following his accident, the company filled in the holes using a product called MagnaPatch. Nevertheless, this was only a temporary solution and the man’s employer admitted that cracks in the concrete were a reoccurring problem.

The man decided to file a claim against the owner of the building, arguing they owed him a duty of care. He said they were aware of the defects but had done nothing to fix them, leading to his injury.

However, the owners of the building said they did not owe a duty of care, and even if they did, this was not breached and the man’s negligence contributed to his accident.

Original public liability claim and appeal

The man’s first public liability case against the owners was rejected the judge believed they were unaware of the problems with the concrete and could not therefore be liable for failing to deal with the issue.

A tenancy contract also showed that regular wear and tear, which is what the courts ruled the holes in the concrete as, should have been dealt with by the man’s employer and not the building owners.

On appeal, the plaintiff said the original judge erred in deciding that the owners of the building were not aware of the holes. He referred to notes from a meeting between employees of the organisation that showed the defendants knew about the forklifts causing damage to the concrete floors.

The handwritten note was made six months before the accident. However, the appellate judges said that even if the note had made it to the relevant people at the company in order to take action, they did not convey the seriousness of the issue.

As such, they said the building owners could not have known the extent of the deterioration or have been in a position to reasonably react. The appeal was therefore dismissed and the man will now need to cover the case costs.

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