Slip and fall on a travelator after walking through wet area at a shopping centre

PUBLISHED 14 May 2013

This is a very interesting matter where our client was walking between her work and another store as she was leaving the premises of the shopping centre she walked through an area which was being cleaned by a cleaning company. Upon approaching the travelator area she noticed that the cleaner was cleaning. She carefully walked through the area the cleaner was cleaning and subsequently stepped onto the travelator on which she slipped heavily and suffered the injury to her lower back.

Although the cleaner had a sign in the vicinity of the area he was cleaning it was not apparent to our client who did not notice the sign. It was not apparent to the client that the area would be wet and would cause her to slip on the travelator. The cleaner actually turned on and off the travelator everyday and had the key and could have turned off the travelator. The managing company had a contract with the cleaner but also had control of when the cleaners could clean or enter the premises.

The client was receiving workers compensation benefits which if we were successful would need to be paid back.

In evidence at the hearing, it became apparent that the cleaner had control of the travelator and was responsible for turning it on and off on each day.

In this matter we also sued the managing agent of the shopping centre who is responsible for hiring the appropriate cleaner and ensuring the appropriate process was undertaken when cleaning. A detailed contract between the parties is necessary to determine who is ultimately responsible for the safety of the Plaintiff.

The key factor in this case was that the travelator should have been switched off whilst the cleaner was mopping the area. This would have avoided people stepping into a moving travelator with wet shoes and thus causing them to slip.

The matter ran for 4 days in the District Court and the plaintiff’s evidence was accepted. Evidence was called from a travelator expert who suggested that the travelator was at a steep decline and as a result of adding moisture to the bottom of our client’s shoes the area would be extremely slippery.

The judge handed down a verdict in favour of the Plaintiff over $450,000.

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