Public liability claims are a serious issue for businesses throughout New South Wales.
The hotel and tourism sector has been particularly vulnerable to such legal cases, which is driving many to look into potential dangers that could cause huge financial setbacks.
Most recently, a woman was awarded nearly half a million dollars in a case she filed after stepping into a drain she claimed was not properly covered, which was found in the parking lot of a New South Wales hotel, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Immediately after the accident, 52-year-old Helen Wurth was treated for two fractured toes and two bruised knees. The accident occurred at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Bathurst, where an open water drain created a 15cm drop in the middle of a driveway.
Ms Wurth asserted that the hotel should have warned patrons that the drain was not fully covered, or at the very least marked it in some way to veer pedestrians away from the broken grate.
Despite medical attention, Ms Wurth complained of regular pain in her toes, and doctors' assessments showed she could have stiffness in her knees in the future because of the injury. The case resulted in an award of $456,000 for the plaintiff.
Hotel and pub managers around Australia are now thinking about how they can protect themselves from such public liability claims. Both enterprises often deal with large amounts of people, late nights, alcohol and other factors that can sometimes contribute to accidents.
In many cases, hotels have taken out specific insurance policies that cover such accidents. Though it may be safer for the hotels and restaurants, this suggests that both groups are aware of the dangers that are present.
This was the case for Ms. Wurth. Although the hotel's insurance company attempted to present evidence that showed the plaintiff could still function normally, District Court Judge Leonard Levy wrote that he believed the plaintiff was certainly suffering from pain.
"She is never free of that pain. This causes her difficulties with prolonged walking and restricts her ability to use stairs … she also experiences difficulty when driving long distances and with some social activities including standing and dancing," he said in his judgement, according to the SMH.
This is just one instance in which a plaintiff has been awarded a hefty sum. All over the state, lawyers that specialise in filing a public liability injury claim are helping victims receive compensation.