Slip and fall leads to $99,000 against owner/occupier

PUBLISHED 13 May 2014

Our client wanted to seek compensation for the injury and loss that she suffered. Our client did not want to get involved in a long and complicated legal process. Rather, she wanted a quick resolution of this matter that would provide her with a just outcome. Our client was aware that Gerard Malouf and Partners was a legal firm that specialised in public liability claims. Her case was managed by Christine Beshay, a senior solicitor that practices in public liability. Our client was grateful to have a solicitor that was not only passionate but also empathetic to her condition. Christine ensured that the client’s voice was heard throughout the entire matter, and that the client was aware of how the matter progressed.

Our client obtained her injuries while walking to the local shop to buy something. She slipped on some contamination and oil on the driveway, and fell very awkwardly and landed heavily on her buttocks. Our client fell back and hit her head but she was not rendered unconscious. Our client had a severe headache and neck pain, pain in the lower part of the back and in the left buttock and she experienced some discomfort in the region of the right hand. Our client managed to get up with great difficulty and was taken to the local hospital. Our client was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon, who advised continuing conservative care. Our client undertook physiotherapy and consumed between four to eight pain tablets per day to manage her pain. For a period of time, our client was unable to return to work. Further, our client previously had a total hip replacement on the right hand side. As a result of the slip and fall, our client had to have revision surgery of her hip.

Prior to commencing proceedings and filing pleadings, Christine obtained a liability report in order to determine whether the claim had reasonable prospects of success. Christine and her legal team also worked efficiently to quickly acquire the relevant clinical notes. Medico-legal appointments were arranged to take place between our client and various occupational therapists and psychologists. This enabled Christine to determine the true nature and extent of our client’s injuries.

Thereafter, Christine filed a Statement of Claim in the District Court of New South Wales. We pleaded that the owner/occupier of the property (the defendant) owed our client a duty to take such care to avoid foreseeable risks of harm to our client as was reasonable in circumstances where it knew or ought to have known that its operation of the premise was capable of depositing contamination on the driveway and that pedestrians proceeding along the walkway would traverse the driveway. We submitted that the defendant breached this duty of care in failing to maintain or properly maintain the driveway. It also breached its duty in failing to direct persons using the premise not to deposit contamination on the driveway.

In our Statement of Particulars, we claimed for past out of pocket expenses (such as medical bills, physiotherapy costs, medication, etc.) and future out of pocket expenses. We also claimed for both past and future domestic assistance, as well as loss of income.

The defendants responded by alleging that they did not breach this duty of care. Further and in the alternative, they submitted that the loss, injury and damage suffered by our client was contributed or caused by her own negligence.

It was clear that both parties did not want to proceed to a Court hearing, as this would lead to unnecessary litigation costs for both clients. Initially, the defendants set out a Calderbank offer of settlement in the sum of $35,000.00 inclusive of costs. This offer was valid for a period of 28 days. Our client was nonplussed by this offer, as she felt the amount of pain and suffering that she went through, and was yet to go through, was well beyond this amount. As Christine continued to develop our client’s legal argument, the defendants recognised that their initial offer was inadequate, and proposed an offer of $70,000.00. Again, our client was dissatisfied with this amount. Eventually, the matter settled for a total of $99,000.00. Our client was extremely pleased that the final offer was nearly triple the initial offer.

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