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Middle-aged man gets favourable settlement after a slip and fall at a shopping centre

Case Overview
  • The Plaintiff suffered an injurious slip and fall on a wet terrazzo floor in a large shopping centre.
  • The First Defendant engaged a cleaner (The Second Defendant) to carry out cleaning within the premises. We sued the owner of the shopping centre and the cleaner on the basis that they owed our client a duty of care and they breached their duty of care.
  • We were able to secure our client a favourable settlement despite the difficult liability issues in the matter and avoid our client the expense of a fully contested hearing.

This matter involved a middle-aged man who attended a suburban shopping centre. Our client was walking towards the toilet area of the shopping centre, when his foot slipped on some clear liquid on the terrazzo tiles. As a result of the slip, our client lost his balance and fell landing on the unyielding surface of the terrazzo floor.

As a result of the fall, our client sustained a direct blow and laceration to the left knee, patellofemoral joint and skin as well as a ligament injury to the left ankle, and an injury to the lumbar spine. As a result of his ongoing pain and suffering, our client contacted Gerard Malouf and Partners to enquire about making a personal injury claim for compensation. 

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation Lawyers began to gather evidence from our client’s treating doctors and had our client assessed by an expert orthopaedic surgeon, psychiatrist  and occupational therapist to determine the extent of his injuries and provide a report on the impact these injuries had on his life.

Our Approach

Our team obtained an expert liability report from a safety management and building specialist, who provided the opinion that it should have been foreseeable to the Defendants, that eventually a person walking on the terrazzo tile flooring, when it has been contaminated with potential lubricants, within the shopping centre would experience a slip, loss of balance, fall and injury, unless appropriate preventative measures were effectively and unfailingly implemented.

Proceedings in the District Court were commenced against the shopping centre owner and the cleaners. A subpoena was issued on the Defendants for all documents in respect of the incident including CCTV footage. The CCTV footage demonstrated that there was a cleaner in the area 2 minutes prior to our client’s fall. This evidence made the case on liability particularly difficult given the Plaintiff was no longer able to establish that the cleaner failed to adhere to their inspection and cleaning arrangements and failed to have in place a reasonable system of cleaning.

The Result

In an effort to keep costs down for our client, our expert team arranged a settlement conference with the Defendants prior to the matter proceeding to hearing. At this settlement conference, the parties engaged in lengthy negotiations and we were able to secure a favourable outcome for our client despite the difficult liability issues.

Pauline Yacoub Lawyer

Pauline Yacoub

Solicitor
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31:8,9.
Frequently Asked Questions

More Information

Slips, trips and falls that occur in a public place, such as a shopping mall, car park or supermarket, can lead to public claims.

However, you must be able to show that your accident was due to negligence on behalf of the individual or organisation responsible for ensuring your safety in that environment.

In other words, you need to prove that you were owed a duty of care and that this was breached. You must also have suffered damage or an injury as a result of the negligence.
 

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

 

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 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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