56th wedding anniversary at Taree turns into disaster due to poor lighting design

PUBLISHED 06 Mar 2017

Ms FK and her husband attended upon a resort at Taree for their 56th wedding anniversary. They had never attended this resort before. When they arrived at the resort it was still daylight. Upon their arrival there was no attendee to show them around the room.

During that first night, at approximately 2:30 AM, Ms FK needed to go to the bathroom. The room was extremely dark and the only light switch that she was knew of was located in the hallway which midway down a set of stairs that led from the front door.

A test conducted within the villa in darkness identified that the ambient light within the villa amounted to 1 candela, which would have been insufficient for any person, regardless of their age, to identify a light switch safely located in the middle of the stairwell.

As Ms FK reached out to turn on the light, she lost her balance and fell down the stairs. This caused her significant injuries. An ambulance was immediately called and she was placed into a neck and back brace.

At hospital, it was identified that she had suffered a fracture to her lumbar spine at the L1 disc. Needless to say this ended the 56th anniversary honeymoon. Despite this serious incident, the insurer proceeded to unsympathetically deny any liability for the incident.

The insurer also attempted to hinder Gerard Malouf and Partners’ prosecution of the claim by refusing access to the villa for forensic testing time and time again.

Through Gerard Malouf and Partners’ detailed investigations, it was identified that the building was built in excess of 7 years ago, where the building standards at that time was not as strict as they are now. Having a light switch in the middle of a stairway at that time was not in breach of any building code. However, through Gerard Malouf and Partners’ expertise, it was put to the insurer of the resort that being a resort open to the public for payment of service, they must held  to a much higher standard. Although there were no case law in New South Wales for the same, there was case law in other States which did hold hotels to such a greater standard to ensure that it was a safe and fit premises for use on a commercial basis.

It was put to the insurer that a person who was entering into an unfamiliar environment should be afforded greater care, particularly relating to stairs and lighting.

Despite Ms FK’s very serious injuries, she was fortunate to be able to recover quite well particularly for women of her age. The majority of her damages amounted to her medical and treatment expenses. In this regard, Gerard Malouf and Partners were able to secure damages in amount of $95,000.00. This was far in excess of the insurer’s offer of a verdict for the defendant.

Ms FK was extremely happy with the result.

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