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Injured Shopper Trips Over Advertising Sign and Wins Negligence Claim

Case Overview
  • An elderly shopper tripped over an advertising sign and suffered impact injuries.
  • Our client was able to establish negligence against the shopping centre.
  • The owners of the shopping Centre were ordered to pay him significant compensation for the accident.

Our client was an elderly shopper who was attending to a large shopping centre in the South Coast region of New South Wales with his wife. As he was walking into the shopping centre for the purposes of shopping when he tripped on a mobile sign placed within the mall area. The mall area was busy with patrons and the mobile sign was displayed at the bottom. 

Our client’s fall was captured on CCTV footage and it was noted from the CCTV footage that earlier in the day the mobile sign had been moved around by the cleaners whilst they were coming through the area cleaning the area. As a result of the fall our client suffered impact to his right knee, right hip, lower back, right shoulder, right wrist, right ankle and an aggravation of previous symptoms, trauma and shock.

We wrote to the shopping centre requesting that we be provided with the incident report and the CCTV footage of the accident. The CCTV footage showed our client and his wife walking into the main entrance of the shopping centre and were near the door when his right foot was impeded by a low-level portable sign.  As a result of this, our client lost his balance and fell forward landing on the floor. He was in a great deal of pain and was assisted to his feet by his wife.

“If you suffer an injury as a result of falling at a shopping centre, you may be entitled to receive an award in damages for compensation for your injuries as a result of the negligence of the other party.”

Nassir Bechara
Our Approach

We commissioned a liability report from an expert and during his inspection of the area and the CCTV footage he noted that the area is very busy with patrons, the sign had been turned 90° by the cleaner from the shopping centre, the area was within close proximity to a takeaway food outlet with tables and chairs within the main aisle area, the portable sign was promoting the opening of the new store, the base of the portable sign was much wider than the actual sign area, and the base of the sign was light grey in colour and does not stand out from the floor area.

There were no warning signs deployed on or near the aisles and no temporary barriers had been deployed to prevent or discourage patrons from walking within the aisle. He was a regular shopper at the shopping centre prior to the accident. He informed us that this was a new sign and not usually in the location where the incident occurred. 

We launched legal proceedings against the shopping centre in relation to our client’s injury and damages. Liability was denied and the shopping centre filed a defence blaming our client for the accident. The opinion of the liability expert was that the sign should not have been placed in this location as it restricted the access and egress within the mall area. Furthermore, the sign was advertising the opening of a shop and could have been placed in an alternative location, such as a temporary hanging sign from the ceiling. He determined that the defendant had not carried out a proper and thorough risk assessment of the shopping centre area in accordance with the workplace health and safety regulations and the sign was a trip hazard and they were negligent in allowing or permitting pedestrians to walk upon the area of the shopping centre aisle in which the incident occurred.

Our client visited doctors and specialists for treatment in relation to his injuries. The diagnosis was that he had suffered a lumbar spine instability which was of a permanent nature and injuries to his mid back, right shoulder and right knee. His prognosis was poor and that he would require further treatment in the future. The injury resulted in a reduced ability to participate in normal social, recreational and domestic activities such as maintenance of the lawns and gardens. He was assessed as suffering from 59% whole person impairment as a result of his injuries from the accident. The legal representatives for the defendant filed their defence blaming our client for not watching where he was walking although this was totally refuted by our client and our liability expert report.

The court ordered the matter be referred to a hearing so that the parties could discuss the liability and medical issues in the matter and the various heads of damages which would likely be awarded to our client as a result of his injuries and continuing disabilities arising from the accident. 

The Result

The shopping centre was ordered to pay our client a substantial compensation award of damages for his injuries caused by their negligence.

Nassir Bechara

Special Counsel
I strongly recommend Gerard Malouf & Partners for their dedicated client service and expertise. Nassir Bechara particularly supported my claim process with sound advice and compassion. In such a challenging legal process I entrusted him with looking after my best interests and he and his team exceeded well beyond my expectations. Nassir did more than follow a process.
Frequently Asked Questions

More Information

Public liability refers to the responsibilities owners or occupants of a public space have to protect anyone who enters. If the owners or occupants fall short of these responsibilities, resulting in an injury, a case for compensation can be made.

Some of the most common incidents covered by public liability law include:

  • The food or drink from a restaurant makes you sick: The most common example of this type of public liability is food poisoning, however improperly disclosed allergens could also lead to litigation.
  • A slip and fall accident caused by negligence: Slip and fall incidents are especially common in busy public places such as playgrounds, schools, shopping centres, common walkways in buildings and outdoor event venues. They can result from negligent behaviour if poorly lit, uneven, unmarked or slippery surfaces are involved, amongst other reasons.
  • Injury caused by poor workmanship: If a product used by a space fails mechanically and causes an injury, a public liability claim can often be made. Examples include exploding gas bottles, poorly constructed furnishings and inadequate building structures. These cases may also be eligible for product liability litigation, if you decide to pursue both the property owner and the product manufacturer.
  • An attack by an animal while in a space: If the owners or occupants of a space fail to keep an animal, whether domestic or wild, contained as a result of negligence, you may have a potential case.

Following an initial meeting, the first task will be to establish the general facts of the case. This will include your medical diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed and documented by a doctor; and proof that the person or company at fault owed you a duty of care, which will need to be demonstrated. Together, this will show that your injury occurred when they breached that duty of care.

From there a further investigation will proceed—contacting and interviewing witnesses, speaking with expert consultants, and more—all in order to bolster the strength of your case even further. Only once this process is complete, and your claim can be demonstrated and proven in full, will the process move on to the next step.

Public liability claims enable you to recoup the financial and emotional costs of suffering an injury due to someone else’s negligence. Defendants regularly offer monetary settlements to claimants, particularly if they acknowledge liability and believe they would lose in court.

But should you accept the settlement or proceed to the later stages of litigation instead, where a judge will have the final decision? Every case is different, but here are some of the factors you may wish to consider before making your choice:

  1. The size of the settlement
  2. The strength of your case
  3. Your patience levels
  4. Your lawyer’s advice



More Case Summaries

About Us
Gerard Malouf & Partners have provided friendly, experienced legal advice to communities across Australia for over 35 years. Our Personal Injury Lawyers have taken on ten’s of thousands of cases and we are proud to have won billions of dollars for our clients.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.

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