Woman seeks public liability compensation after car park trip

Date: Mar 23, 2017

A woman has pursued a public liability claim against the owners of a shopping mall and car park after she tripped and fell over a kerb on the way back to her vehicle.

The plaintiff, who was 33 at the time of the accident in 2012, was walking towards her car when she noticed a woman with a shopping trolley was about to – and ultimately did – collide with the plaintiff’s vehicle.

Momentarily distracted, she tripped on the kerb of a lane separation traffic island and injured her right knee and left shoulder. While her knee has largely recovered, her shoulder has required surgery and left the plaintiff with an ongoing disability that makes various household chores and work tasks difficult.

The woman claimed there was inadequate illumination in the car park, adding that painted markings to warn about the kerb had worn away and were difficult to see.

Important factors in the case

Both the plaintiff and the defendant relied on expert evidence to argue their case. The judge needed to decide on four key issues:

  • Whether the kerb was an obvious tripping risk that obviated the need to warn people;
  • Whether the defendant had breached its duty of care to the plaintiff;
  • Whether contributory negligence was a factor; and
  • The amount of damages to award should the plaintiff be successful.

District Court Judge Leonard Levy calculated the appropriate damages, if the woman won, at more than $149,000 to cover future economic losses, treatment expenses and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.

But was the plaintiff successful?

Judge Levy’s decision

On this occasion, unfortunately for the plaintiff, the judge rejected the public liability claim.

A crucial factor was that the woman had already successfully navigated another kerb and had only tripped on the subsequent one because the shopper colliding into the plaintiff’s car had distracted her.

The woman had also visited the shopping mall on numerous occasions, which the judge said should have given her a good idea of the car park’s layout and tripping hazards. As such, the woman failed to prove the defendant was negligent.

While the plaintiff was ultimately unsuccessful, she may be able to appeal the decision or, if her injuries constitute a total and permanent disability (TPD), pursue a different claim against her superannuation or insurance policy.

Furthermore, individuals who opt for no-win, no-fee law firms don’t have to pay any legal expenses should they fail to win a settlement.

Would you like to learn more? Please contact a personal injury lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today.

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