Woman wins compensation from Sydney Water over slip at beach

Date: Oct 26, 2017

A woman has succeeded in her case against regional body Sydney Water for public liability compensation after a slip on a water runoff platform in Rose Bay.  

In late November 2013, the woman was walking on Rose Bay Beach when she found she had to cross a concrete apron in front of a drain, slick with water which was discharged from the pipe into the sea nearby. With no way to circumnavigate the obstacle, she tried to cross, subsequently losing her footing on what she claimed was a 'mossy and slippery' surface, leading to her suffering an injury.

The woman's claims stood under the assertions that Sydney Water should have made people aware of the risk in crossing the drain, or had the dangerous apron removed. Her claims were countered by Sydney Water with the defence that because the woman was aware of the dangers of the crossing the apron, their duty of care to her was negated by her acceptance of risk. 

What is Sydney Water's duty of care?

Sydney Water is a state-funded body charged with maintaining the water infrastructure of the Great Sydney area. Because this encompasses public social spaces, they have a duty of care to the public who interact with their infrastructure or its immediate surroundings. As Sydney Water had constructed an apron for water drainage on Rose Bay Beach, they had a de facto duty of care to all beach users who come in contact with their drain.  

Why did the woman claim negligence in their duty of care?

The woman's claims of negligence in Sydney Water's duty of care came in two parts. In the first, she claimed there was a substantial failure to adequately inspect the known slipperiness of the pipe's drainage onto the concrete apron, coupled with the design flaw of knowing that this form of drainage would cause hazardous conditions. The second claim dealt with Sydney Water's lack of warning or sign to address the hazards of crossing this apron by foot.  

What was the outcome? 

Sydney Water claimed that the woman's prior knowledge, and indeed previous crossing of the concrete shelf safely, constituted an acceptance of risk. The woman, however, was able to prove that prior design knowledge of the drainage hazards amounted to negligence. This was supported with the claim that the public's prior knowledge of hazardous conditions doesn't constitute acceptance of risk.  

This woman's success in winning public liability compensation shows that individuals who stand up for their rights in the face of large bodies can be successful, with the right legal guidance. If you think you have claims for civil liability compensation, contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for a free consultation.

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