A woman who suffered serious injuries after slipping and falling in a shopping centre has been awarded nearly $65,000 at NSW District Court.
The 51-year-old was in Westfield Shopping Centre in Liverpool when she slipped on a greasy substance on the floor, which caused her to drop to her knees.
This caused severe pain in her left knee, just to the side of the kneecap, as well as a less serious injury to her right knee in a similar spot. She claimed that her hands were covered in a clear and slimy substance after the fall and her trousers were also wet.
The defendant in the case was the company tasked with keeping the shopping centre clean. CCTV footage showed a worker for the firm had recently attended the area in which the plaintiff fell.
Not only was the spillage fairly large, the cleaner failed to put out a warning sign to prevent slips. The court heard that the man’s efforts to clean up the mess had also not been sufficient, with the greasy substance assumed to be the remains of the spillage or a cleaning fluid.
The company admitted that it owed the woman a duty of care, but argued that no breach had occurred. The firm also challenged how much the plaintiff was claiming in injury damages.
Shopping centre slip decision
District Court Judge Michael Elkaim dismissed the cleaning enterprise’s suggestion that a duty of care had not been breached. He said the risk of slipping on a transparent fluid was “foreseeable”, particularly as there were no warning signs.
Mr Elkaim also described the plaintiff as “honest” and didn’t feel she exaggerated her injury. In fact, he congratulated her on continuing at her job while suffering the discomfort of her disability.
“I accept that she slipped on a substance in the area where the cleaner had recently been working. I cannot say whether that substance was present before the cleaner arrived or whether it was placed there by him,” he said.
“The short point is that he left the substance in place without leaving any warning of its presence. This could have been easily achieved by signs or the cordoning off of the area.”
The woman’s knees have prevented her from completing housework, with her husband now carrying out the majority of household tasks.
She was awarded $20,000 for non-economic losses, as well as over $7,000 for past expenses and future medical costs. The judge also provided $27,780 for commercial care in the form of household help, with the overall payout totalling $64,955.