On the first day of winter, outside our Epping office, an elderly man had a fall. It had been raining heavily and he was catching a taxi home. Unfortunately for him, he missed the step, falling to the ground, hitting his head and most likely breaking his hip. People rushed to his attention and soon enough, ambulance staff were tending to him and taking him to the nearby Northern Hospital.
People often joke about personal injury lawyers being ambulance chasers (although of course this is something we have never done!), but on this occasion the accident happened right outside our office. Could we help him? Or were we a possible Defendant? The answer to both questions is no. Legally, neither councils, shopping centres or other occupiers are liable for a person’s injuries if it is a simple fall, with no obvious signs of fault. That is, accidents happen.
However some accidents are avoidable. If the step to the taxi rank was made up of broken or crumbling concrete that was hard to distinguish, the shopping centre could be held liable for a tripping accident. If premises have high gloss floors, and it is raining outside, a warning sign would be expected to alert guests entering the premises. The High Court has also held that a supermarket with a steady flow of customers, should have regular cleaning inspections, at least every 20 minutes, to ensure there are no slipping hazards.
When a person is injured in a public place, it is often difficult to know if negligence was involved or not. If you are in doubt, our industry recognised legal experts can help determine if there is a basis to establish liability. When you call (03) 9321 9988 you will speak directly to a lawyer who will provide preliminary advice about your injury and book you in for your free first appointment.