A woman who suffered a serious eye injury when she was struck in the head with a ball will receive $692,806 after a successful public liability claim.
The incident occurred during an informal indoor cricket match at Manly Life Saving Club in 2014. The plaintiff, who was 16 years old at the time, sued both the club (the first defendant) and the individual who struck the ball (the second defendant).
Prior to the case reaching NSW District Court, the dispute against the club was settled, leaving Judge David Russell to decide on the merits of the claim against the second defendant. Let’s examine why he felt such a significant amount of compensation was warranted.
The plaintiff was a young member of the club and had been helping run a barbecue to raise funds for the sprint team on the day of the accident. She was cleaning up after the event, which involved carrying utensils and trays to the club’s kitchen.
This required passing through an upstairs function room where a handful of boys were playing cricket with a ball that was slightly harder than a regular tennis ball. The plaintiff’s bag was on the floor, and she crouched down to retrieve her phone.
At this moment, the second defendant firmly batted the ball, which hit the plaintiff in her left eye, detaching the retina. Her eyesight will never fully recover, forcing her to give up gymnastics, a sport that she had achieved a top eight status nationally.
The plaintiff also stopped surf lifesaving on the advice of her doctor due to the risk of further damaging her eye. She suffers from frequent headaches, only has 6/36 vision in her left eye and has become withdrawn and sad.
Judge Russell ruled the second defendant was negligent in failing to take reasonable precautions to ensure the plaintiff’s safety from a foreseeable, not insignificant risk. He said the boy could and should have paused the game until the plaintiff had vacated the area.
The judge awarded the plaintiff $349,500 in non-economic damages for her injuries, which is 55 per cent of a most extreme case. She also received nearly $300,000 for future lost earnings and superannuation, as well as almost $50,000 for out-of-pocket expenses.
This case highlights the large sums of money the courts may award people whose lives are forever changed due to injuries that are someone else’s fault. If you would like to discuss a public liability claim, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.