Sydney woman critically injured after falling from flying fox

Date: May 31, 2019

Flying turned to falling after Sydney woman fell from a flying fox, suffering serious injuries as a result. As with any slip, trip, or fall, this incident raises questions as to who would be liable to pay compensation should an injury occur.

Falling from the fox

Meeting for a family gathering on Sydney's northern beaches on May 19 of this year, the 37-year-old woman allegedly decided to try her hand at a flying fox after seeing the fun children were having on it. The flying fox, with an alleged height of 2.5-metres high, ran for around 40-metres, between two trees. Two braking mechanisms had been fitted on the flying fox to slow riders down. Unfortunately, this mechanism failed to halt the woman, reportedly propelling her into a tree at the end of her ride. 

When emergency services arrived on the scene – consisting of six ambulance crews and a helicopter – the woman was allegedly unable to move, and bleeding. After being flown to Royal North Shore Hospital, it emerged that she had suffered suspected injuries to her head and spinal cord, as well as a punctured lung and broken ribs.

What are the public liability implications of flying foxes?

Though thrilling and fun, flying foxes pose a hazard due to the risk of falling. When it comes to seeking compensation for falling off a flying fox, several factors you'll need to consider several factors to determine whether it is a case of public liability.

If the flying fox had been constructed and offered as part of an established, recreational business, those operating the business would have a duty of care to ensure the safety of patrons. Should an incident occur, those injured could argue that the operator of the business had been negligent in their duty of care, had a previous liability waiver not been signed. In this instance, an injured party may seek the following where applicable:

  • Cover for medical expenses including rehabilitation.
  • A payout for pain and suffering stemming from the incident.
  • Compensation for economic loss, including missed wages and superannuation.
  • A lump payment to cover future care, including home and vehicle modifications necessary as the result of injuries.

However, if a flying fox were home constructed, then a risk of injury would be assumed. Knowledge of this risk is particularly important when it comes to public liability claims, as it impacts whether compensation can be awarded. In the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW), a liability payout isn't generally awarded to those who partook in an activity which had an obvious, foreseeable risk.

If you've been involved in a slip, trip, fall, or sustained an injury where there is an element of public liability, it's crucial to reach out to the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Lawyers to support your case.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.