Western Sydney pensioner’s significant damages award as a result of a trip and fall over a pipe on a footpath causing serious injuries

PUBLISHED 12 May 2016

Our client was an elderly pensioner who was walking along the footpath on amy street, regents park in the state of new south wales. He was walking in the direction of the local shopping centre.

At the corner of amy street and terrence street, regents park was a speedway petrol station. Prior and during that time there were major construction works that were being carried out at the speedway petrol station and these works included the replacement of two storage tanks for petrol. Prior to the new tanks being used, it is necessary to remove any water that has accumulated in the tanks during construction.

The speedway petrol station engaged the services of an independent contractor to carry out the major construction works at the service station. They placed a pipe within the service station to flow over the concrete driveway and footpath into the street gutter. Our client being an elderly gentleman did not see the pipe and nor were there any safety barriers or measures in place. As a result, our client tripped over the pipe and suffered serious injury.

It was alleged that the independent contractor was negligent in that they would have taken reasonable precautions against the risk of arm which eventuated when pedestrians are walking along the footpath. Some of the particulars of negligence included failing to warn our client, failing to erect adequate warning signs and/or safety barriers and that the risk of tripping on the pipe was a foreseeable risk to the defendant and the risk of harm to our client was not insignificant.

As a result of tripping and falling, our client suffered serious injuries to his head, right shoulder, left knee, lower back, grazing and bruising to the forehead and left knee as well as psychological injury and shock.

Despite our client’s age, he suffered quite serious and debilitating injuries which affected his loss of enjoyment of life and his mobility in that he was living on his own at the time.

The defendant denied that our client’s injury occurred in the matter in which it was alleged and that the employees of the contractor were there at the time and that our client did not heed their warnings. This was completely denied by our client and the subpoena evidence from the defendant contractor clearly established that there was conflicting evidence on the part of the employees of the contractor. In fact, the subpoenaed evidence into the court in our view supported our client’s version of events as to the mechanism of the injury and that the contractor was negligent in causing our client’s injuries, losses and damage.

Our client was referred to doctors and specialists for x-rays and ct-scans which confirmed the presence of symptoms with his neck and lower back and nerve conduction studies also confirmed the debilitating nature of his lower back symptoms. His other major problem was in relation to his right shoulder which confirmed he had suffered a tear and significant impairment in the right shoulder as a result of falling on the footpath at the time of the accident.

The claim was listed for hearing over a number of days and the defendant contractor employees who were there at the time were subpoenaed to attend court to give evidence as was our client’s treating doctor.

Our client’s claim was for general damages for permanent impairment and pain and suffering, past and future treatment expenses and past and future care noting the debilitating nature of the client’s injuries and symptoms.

It was clear from the liability and the defendant contractor’s own subpoenaed evidence that the plaintiff would succeed on the issue of liability.

Accordingly, after repeated attempts the defendant realised and accepted that our client had very good prospects of success in pursuing the claim and that he would be vindicated at a full court hearing.

As such the defendant’s legal representatives participated in an informal settlement conference and offered substantial damages in the settlement of our client’s claim.

Our client did not have to be put through the trauma of being cross examined particularly at his age, even though this course would have been pursued but for the defendant offering significant damages to settle the claim.

The independent contractor was not able to avoid liability in this case in that they had a duty of care to ensure that the premises and the surrounding area were free of risks to pedestrians, particularly whilst they were carrying out major construction works at the speedway service station at regents park.

Conclusion:-

Our client was a pedestrian walking to the shopping centre when he tripped over a pipe on the footpath which had been placed there by a contractor who was undertaking works at the petrol station including the replacement of storage tanks. By failing to take adequate precautions, this resulted in our client who was a lawful entrant walking along the footpath when he suffered his serious injuries.

If you are a pedestrian who suffers a trip and fall on a footpath or even private or public property, you may have a claim in negligence against the owners and occupiers of the premises who caused your significant injuries, losses and damage.

Please feel free to contact us for advice and discussion of your matter and to review the available options that you may consider in the circumstances.

For a free no obligation consultation, please contact us on our toll free number 1300 768 780 so that an appointment can be arranged for you to attend to protect your legal rights in the matter.

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