A woman who claimed to have suffered serious injuries after tripping over when exiting a lift has failed to convince appellate judges that she should receive compensation.
The case highlights the complexity of public liability claims, including the importance of gathering enough evidence to support your version of events.
On the day of the accident in 2008, the appellant was stepping out of a lift at a building on Loftus Street, Sydney, to visit investment management firm AMP Capital.
However, the claimant said the lift failed to stop level with the floor where she was exiting, creating a step of approximately 1.5 to 2 inches that she failed to see and subsequently tripped over.
She said the incident caused her to wrench her neck and exacerbated a pre-existing degenerative condition, for which she sought $2.5 million in damages.
Launching an appeal
The trial judge rejected the public liability claim on a number of grounds, including the lack of evidence to show that the elevator's levelling failure led to a step measuring up to 2 inches.
The judge also argued that while the defendant – AMP Capital – owed the plaintiff a duty of care, this did not extend to having the lift mechanisms replaced to prevent levelling problems.
Furthermore, even if the duty of care did extend to replacement machinery, the plaintiff would still need to effectively prove that the sill she fell over was large enough to indicate that aged machinery was the root of the issue.
However, the woman decided to appeal this decision, stating that the original judge erred in several rulings.
Failure to convince the judges
One of the primary grounds of appeal was that the appellant believed the trial judge failed to take into account other evidence of the lift's levelling problems when making a ruling.
She also offered evidence that AMP Capital had been advised to upgrade its lift based on a risk assessment that identified levelling issues, but had failed to do so.
However, the appellate judges did not feel the new evidence was strong enough to overturn the original decision and threw out the appeal.
This case shows that compiling strong evidence to support your claim is a crucial part of pursuing damages for public liability and negligence. As such, it's vital to enlist the services of experienced compensation lawyers in NSW.
Please contact a member of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for more information.