Cities have to be extremely cautious with their sidewalk and road maintenance, after several lawsuits have been filed around the country based on minor slips, trips and falls.
Businesses are fearing liabilities that may be present in uneven sidewalks outside their doors or other problems that could result in injuries. However, some municipalities have gotten away with claiming ignorance, despite evidence that suggests walking conditions were a problem.
Such was the case in the coastal city of Caloundra, where 75-year-old Jean Rossiter recently suffered a fall onto the sidewalk which resulted in a dislocated shoulder.
The accident occurred on June 6, but more than two months later, Mrs Rossiter is still complaining of severe pain – even after she had surgery to correct the damage from the fall.
According to the Sunshine Coast Daily, the City Council owns the sidewalk along Bulcock Street where Mrs Rossiter fell, and even though she has filed several complaints, the council refuses to admit that the conditions are likely what led to her fall.
Mrs Rossiter even gathered witnesses who corroborated her story, all saying that the walkway was uneven and not fit for someone to be walking on it.
"I was simply walking along and the next thing I fell," she told the paper.
Abandoned by the Council
Mrs Rossiter said that although compensation for her medical costs would be ideal, she would settle for an apology from the City Council.
However, perhaps out of fear of admitting guilt through apologising, the 75-year-old woman received a letter from the Council urging her not to proceed with any legal action.
"The courts have emphasised pedestrians are expected to reasonably take care of their own safety," the letter, given to the media outlet, read.
"We consider the cause of your fall was so minor that a court will find there was no obligation for our client to remedy it."
Slip and fall cases are occurring nationwide. Earlier in the winter, a man from New South Wales was awarded nearly $150,000 through a slip and fall injury claim. The complaint stemmed from an accident in which he fell down stairs in a public area.
Mrs Rossiter's fight isn't over, and, like many who have been injured in slip and fall injuries, she may benefit from filing a public liability injury claim against the city.