Wet floor sign accident results in family restaurant paying compensation to customer

PUBLISHED 21 Mar 2018

Our client was a customer at a well-known family restaurant in Bonnyrigg Heights being west of the Sydney Central Business District and in the Local Government area of the City of Fairfield. She attended with her husband to the family restaurant for afternoon lunch. Our client decided to use the toilet very shortly after entering and she walked to the signed toilet doors. There was one door in the small hallway from which there were other doors to actual men, women and disabled toilets. Our client opened the main door to enter the little hallway. As she walked in, her right foot slipped on a “wet floor” sign which had fallen and was lying flat on the tiled floor. Our client suffered an injury to her neck and back and aggravated a pre-existing medical conditions.

She reported the accident to the staff and manager and there seemed to be some concern by the manager as to why the wet floor sign was left directly behind the door and in an inappropriate position. The risk of harm that existed at the time of the accident and materialised was the risk of customers being injured as a result of slipping on a wet floor sign that was lying flat on the tiled floor, just after the entry of the doorway. It was a risk of injury that was foreseeable. It was a risk of harm that was not insignificant.

The family restaurant denied liability in relation to our client’s injuries, losses and damage. They denied that they were negligent in causing our client’s injury. We commenced legal proceedings against the family restaurant in that our client was owed a duty of care by the family restaurant to exercise reasonable care whilst she was on their premises to purchase food and have lunch with her husband. They exposed our client to a risk of injury which could have been avoided by reasonable care. They clearly failed to safely and/or appropriately place the wet floor sign and they failed to ensure that the wet floor sign was safely and/or appropriately positioned.

As a result of the accident, our client suffered injuries to her neck and back and aggravated her pre-existing medical conditions. She was sent by her family doctor to attend to doctors and specialists for treatment and x-rays. After her treatment was completed we obtained medical reports from her treating doctors and specialists. We arranged for our client to be independently medically examined and assessed and the orthopaedic surgeon found that our client had suffered an injury to her neck, mid back and lower back. This affected her loss of enjoyment of life and restricted her capacity in terms of domestic duties. She was unfit for heavy manual handling activities. The specialist determined that she was left with permanent impairment of her neck, back and the sciatica down her left and right legs. She was also referred to a psychologist for treatment and found that she was suffering from anxiety, depression and chronic pain due to her injuries and disabilities arising from the accident.

We also obtained a medical report from the client’s family treating doctor whom she had been under the care of for quite some time. The family treating doctor provided a detailed medical report detailing all of the consultations and treatment with the patient and he determined that she had suffered serious injuries and continuing disabilities and symptoms arising from the accident at the family restaurant and aggravated her pre-existing medical conditions. All of this medical evidence was provided to the Defendant’s legal representatives and they also arranged for our client to be independently medically examined and assessed.

We also obtained a liability expert report after a view and testing was undertaken of the family restaurant by our client and our expert. The expert provided an expert opinion that the floor surface was unsafe, appropriate cleaning practises should have been undertaken, alternative safety signage should have been provided and cleaning staff should be instructed and directed to ensure that they mop areas and ensure that they are adequately dry, removing all safety signage prior to leaving and not supervising the area and potentially warning patrons and staff of any potential hazards.

The court directed that the parties arrange for a settlement conference for the purposes of canvassing the liability and medical issues in the matter and to discuss prospects of settlement of the claim. At the conclusion of the informal settlement conference it was agreed that the family restaurant would pay substantial damages in compensation to the customer for her injuries, losses and damages arising from her slipping on a wet floor sign that was left lying on the floor to the entrance to the toilets.

If you are a lawful entrant at a family restaurant and you suffer a serious injury as a result of the negligence of the owners or occupiers of the premises, you may be entitled to receive a substantial award in damages in compensation for your injuries, losses and damages.

Our client was a customer who attended the family restaurant with her husband for afternoon lunch when she slipped on a wet floor sign that was left lying on the floor in the hallway to the toilets. We were able to establish negligence against the family restaurant, and it was clear that they had not followed appropriate processes and procedures with respect to cleaning the premises and the placement of the wet floor signs.

Our client was awarded a substantial award in damages in compensation for her injuries and disabilities arising from the negligence of the family restaurant and its staff and employees.

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