Travelator slip and fall results in $264,279 payout

Date: Sep 29, 2017

A woman who slipped and fell on a travelator at a shopping centre has been awarded nearly $265,000 after a judge agreed that a duty of care breach had occurred.

The plaintiff operated a hair salon adjacent to the shopping centre and was buying coffee and a teacake from a retail outlet at the mall prior to the accident.

A travelator connecting the shopping centre to the car park was partially exposed to the elements, which meant rain falling at certain angles could cause the device’s steps to become extremely wet.

On the day of the incident, the plaintiff was carrying her coffee, the teacake, a mobile and some keys when she stepped onto the travelator. She slipped after climbing a few steps and fell backwards onto her leg, badly damaging her left ankle.

An acquaintance of the plaintiff had witnessed the accident and attempted to come down the other side of the travelator to assist. However, she also slipped and fell, requiring a trip to the hospital.

The impact of the plaintiff’s injuries

The plaintiff suffered a fractured left ankle and underwent an operation that involved fitting metal hardware into the joint to stabilise the injury.

Since the accident, the woman confirmed she has been able to return to work as a hairdresser, but her ankle often becomes sore during her shifts and gets progressively more uncomfortable as the week progresses.

The plaintiff claimed she needed three 30-minute breaks each day while working, whereas she only stopped for half an hour at lunchtime prior to the accident. The woman has also put on 11 kilograms of weight and has been unable to continue as a surf lifesaver in her spare time.

Medical experts suggest she may require surgery in the future, including the removal of the hardware in her ankle. She is also at a higher risk of developing arthritis in her joint.

Judge confirms duty of care breach

The shopping centre admitted it owed the plaintiff a duty of care in the lead-up to the hearing, so Judge David Russell was only required to rule whether this obligation had been breached.

He ruled organisation had failed in its duty of care because the risk of the travelator becoming wet during heavy rainfall was easily foreseeable and not insignificant.

Indeed, another patron had slipped, fallen and injured themselves under very similar circumstances to the plaintiff a few months previously, yet the shopping centre had taken limited action to prevent further incidents.

Judge Russell awarded the plaintiff $60,500 in non-economic losses, as well as more than $200,000 in lost income and superannuation, out-of-pocket expenses and care costs.

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