Woman’s airplane injury leads to professional negligence claim

Date: May 26, 2018

A woman who was allegedly injured while alighting from a plane has pursued a negligence claim in NSW District Court. But instead of suing the airline in question, she has taken legal action against her own lawyers.

The plaintiff argued that her legal representatives were professionally negligent because they failed to commence personal injury proceedings against the airline within the required time limit. As a result, the plaintiff claims she lost her opportunity to seek damages from the organisation.

Her lawyers admitted breaching their duty of care. Confusion with the time limits arose because they had mistakenly believed a three-year deadline was in place under the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW). However, the claim had to be made within two years pursuant to the Civil Aviation (Carrier’s Liability) Act 1959 – a timeframe that was missed.

The case highlights the importance of having experienced personal injury experts on your side who understand the intricacies of different liability laws across Australia.

Did the woman miss out on injury compensation?

To receive compensation for her professional negligence claim, the woman had to establish that she had missed a realistic opportunity to receive damages from the airline for her injuries.

In other words, was her $500,000 public liability claim likely to have succeeded? District Court Judge Judith Gibson examined the evidence of the accident, which occurred in 2013, to make a decision.

The plaintiff had been using a portable staircase to disembark from an aircraft at Sydney Airport when she slipped on rainwater and fell. The woman landed on her coccyx and said she injured her toes due to wearing open shoes. Since the accident, the plaintiff said she still suffers a range of symptoms, including:

  • Pain in her back and lower legs;
  • Difficulty sitting or standing for long periods;
  • Weight gain;
  • Incontinence;
  • Problems getting out of bed; and
  • Psychological harm.

Was the woman’s claim successful?

Judge Gibson ruled that the plaintiff’s claim would be unlikely to succeed if it had proceeded to court due to inconsistencies in the woman’s evidence. For example, she had suffered two car accidents and an assault in previous years, which caused similar injuries to the ones outlined in her claim.

In fact, the woman had made numerous visits to her GP for the same injuries prior to the airline accident. When cross-examined, the plaintiff was combative and evasive, according to Judge Gibson.

The judge therefore ruled the accident likely did not cause serious injuries and a claim would have only received nominal compensation – if it had succeeded at all.

But while this plaintiff was unsuccessful, thousands more win the compensation they deserve every year after suffering injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence. So contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today 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.