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Trips, Slips and Falls

Case Studies

WOMAN SLIPS ON WET WALKWAY

When our client was 61 years of age, she was injured falling on a tiled walkway which was wet with rainwater. She was transferred via ambulance to hospital where X-ray and CT scans confirmed two fractures of her left arm and another on her pelvis. Our client was required to undergo surgery to treat the fractures in her arm and was unable to weight-bear for an extended period of time. 

After being discharged from hospital, our client was advised to continue physiotherapy and take analgesia as required. She also relied on her partner and son to attend to her domestic and personal care and mobilised on a crutch. Currently, she treats her injuries with at-home exercises and physiotherapy. However, she continues to experience stiffness and reduced range of movement in her elbow and shoulder.

Pre-Accident History

Prior to her accident, our client describes herself as being “extremely fit and active”. She regularly attended the gym and participated in spin classes. She also lifted weights and worked on her upper-body strength to assist her performance in sporting endeavours. These included snow skiing, rowing, outrigging and golf.

Our client was completely independent in undertaking domestic chores and the activities of daily living. She was responsible for internal cleaning, laundry, cooking and grocery shopping. She was also independent in driving and attending to her garden.

Our client owns her own business that is operated from her home. Her work is mainly desk-based and requires her to complete extensive computer work and type for prolonged periods of time. Prior to her accident she also travelled around Sydney to meet with clients and attend networking events.

Preparing the Claim for Compensation

Our client’s public liability claim was prepared on the basis that there was a foreseeable risk of harm to our client that was not insignificant. Furthermore, that a reasonable person in the defendants’ position would have taken precautions against the risk of harm and that there was a probability that harm would occur if the defendants did not exercise reasonable care. Her claim included damages for past and continuing out-of-pocket expenses, loss of income, future economic loss, past gratuitous care and future commercial care.

It was alleged that the first defendant, the owner of the premises, was guilty of negligence in that they failed to warn our client that the relevant area was dangerous when wet and failed to ensure that the walkway was waterproofed and sealed with adequate anti-slip material. It was also claimed that they failed to take proper precautions to ensure that the walkway was safe for our client’s use.

The second defendant had previously been engaged in waterproofing and resealing the path on which our client was injured. It was argued that they were negligent in failing to exercise reasonable care and diligence in fulfilling the work they undertook on the walkway. Furthermore, that they failed to waterproof and reseal the subject walkway adequately or at all.

Medical Evidence

The medical reports gathered demonstrate that our client has a reduced range of movement in her shoulder and lifting difficulties as a result of her injuries. This has resulted in her being unable to independently complete domestic tasks. Although still healing, her injuries are likely to leave our client with permanent stiffness in her shoulder and elbow.

Our client’s injuries also carry the risk of developing necrotic tissue and arthritis in the future, as well as the possibility of surgery to optimise her joint stiffness. Due to this, as well as the general ageing process, it is likely that our client will require future paid domestic assistance to complete day-to-day tasks as the gratuitous assistance currently provided to her will not reasonably continue into the future.

Our client’s injuries have made it very difficult for her to concentrate on her work, drive to meet clients and type for prolonged periods of time. Her past and continuing treatment has also required her to take time out of the workforce, resulting in a loss of income.

Public Liability Compensation Claim Outcome

It is clearly evident that our client has suffered a loss as a result of the defendants’ negligence. She was therefore awarded significant compensation on a no win no, fee basis.

MAN INJURED IN SLIP AND FALL

At 61 years of age, our client was assisting in fixing a broken roof when he slipped on moisture, moss and leaves and then fell through a crack in the roof.

After being transported to St George Hospital via ambulance, our client underwent two surgeries to treat the injuries he sustained to his back and was required to wear a brace for an extended period of time. Although his injuries healed, our client still faces ongoing disabilities as a result of his injury.

To address the near constant pain and other symptoms our client endures, he relies on anti-inflammatory medication, analgesia, GP management and Endone.

Pre-Accident History

Prior to his accident, our client successfully completed domestic chores, including cleaning, laundry and cooking. He also undertook outdoor tasks such as cleaning the pool, home maintenance work and attending to the garden.

Our client was employed full-time as a maintenance supervisor and his role included hands-on work and he spent most of the working day on the factory floor. His role required him to lift materials onto the processing line and then remove them and assemble and weld repairs. He also built equipment. Our client now struggles with the physical demands of his job and is uncertain about his future with his employer due to his limitations as he intends to work past retirement age.

Preparing the Public Liability Compensation Claim

Our client’s slip and fall claim was based on the notion that there was a foreseeable risk of harm to our client and that the risk of injury was not insignificant. It was argued that a reasonable person would have taken precautions against the risk of harm. Furthermore, the risk of harm was serious and there was a probability that harm would occur if reasonable care was not exercised. Therefore, our client’s injuries were sustained as a result of negligence.

Our client’s claim for compensation included damages for continuing out-of-pocket expenses, past and future economic loss, past gratuitous assistance and past and future commercial care. Various medical reports were obtained in support of our client’s compensation claim.

Medical Evidence

As a result of his injury, our client experiences constant back pain and partial numbness in one leg. This limits his ability to independently complete domestic duties and prevents him from participating in hobbies including walking, running and playing golf that he previously enjoyed.

It was conceded that as a result of his incident, our client will have permanent physical limitations and symptoms and long-term deterioration of his injuries is a possibility. As a result, he may require surgery in the future.

Furthermore, occasional physical support may be needed to assist our client in completing heavy domestic duties. This need for assistance will increase as our client’s physical stamina decreases.

Compensation Claim Outcome

Our client’s public liability claim was successful and he was awarded significant compensation on a no win no fee basis.

SHOULDER INJURY CAUSED BY EXCESSIVE WATER ON FLOOR

WM was involved in an accident at his local club where he slipped on an excessive spillage of water on the floor in the men’s room.  As a result, he sustained severe injuries to his right shoulder which resulted in surgery which only partially repaired the injury.

He is married with children, and the injuries he sustained had a significant impact on his day‑to‑day activities and employment.

The insurance company of the local club denied liability on the basis that they had a safe system of cleaning and it was not unusual to find water on the floor in a men’s room.

We were successful in obtaining evidence that the water on the floor was in excess of water you would usually expect to find in a men’s room and as a result at an informal settlement conference with the lawyers for the insurance company of the local club the parties were able to reach an out of court settlement of the claim.

TRIP TO MCDONALDS TURNS INTO A DISASTER

JR was at his local McDonalds for breakfast in March 2012 when he went to the men’s room.  To his surprise as entered the men’s room he encountered significant water on the floor, and whilst he did his best to walk through the water and avoid slipping he unfortunately did slip, and fell, sustaining very serious injuries to his neck.  Shortly after his fall he walked out of the men’s room and sought the manager to notify the manager of his fall.

As he was walking out, a cleaner walked in to the men’s room with a bucket and mop and a sign warning patrons to be careful of the wet floor.

Unfortunately the cleaner was a little late.

McDonalds denied liability, asserting that signage was there prior to his fall, but it was eventually established from recovered CCTV footage that the cleaner had in fact gone in to the men’s room after our client’s fall, and not before.

After protracted negotiations including a settlement conference with the lawyers for McDonalds, the matter was resolved and a substantial amount was received on behalf of JR.

SEVERE INFECTION CAUSES COMPLICATIONS

Our client, BT, injured her knee and ankle in what initially seemed like an innocuous accident caused by an uncovered storm water drain. Whilst our client laughed the fall off at first, within a month she developed a severe infection which required surgical cleaning in hospital, and within 3 months she had to quit her job because of her ongoing knee pain.

Our client stayed positive and ultimately decided to pursue a career change so that she could work in an environment which is easier on her knee and ankle. However, she can no longer enjoy an active lifestyle, and getting dressed up in high-heeled shoes is out of the question.

The insurance company vigorously defended our client’s claim and never looked like paying our client a single cent. Ultimately, our persistence paid off, and we negotiated a good settlement of our client’s claim which provides her with some financial security as she prepares to launch herself into a new career.

TRUCK DRIVER INJURES ANKLE STEPPING INTO POTHOLE

Our client, MC, was a self-employed long distance truck driver. MC was making a late night delivery to the Defendant’s premises and had to step out of his cab to weigh his load. The lighting over the weighbridge was not working, making the area pitch black. As MC stepped down from his cab, his ankle rolled in a pothole on the dirt road, causing him to suffer a serious ankle injury.

As a result of the ankle injury, MC was unable to work as a truck driver for several weeks. After he returned to work he never regained the same level of duties, as using the clutch on his 18 gear truck aggravated his ankle pain.

A claim was brought against the company responsible for the premises, alleging unsafe lighting, an unsafe road surface, and an unsafe method of operations. Liability was denied but we obtained an expert report from a health and safety expert who confirmed that MC’s accident could have been prevented by safer practices. We also obtained a witness statement from another truck driver who confirmed poor practices at the Defendant’s site. Our witness also confirmed better methods at other sites, including the use of UHF radios which avoided the need for drivers to exit their cabs.

The Court ordered that the parties attend a settlement conference before the matter went to hearing. Although liability had been strenuously denied, we secured a significant lump sum of compensation for MC at the settlement conference. MC subsequently had the financial security to pay for any future surgery and the assurance that he had money to fall back on if he needed time off work in the future.

LIFE CHANGING INJURIES SUFFERED IN SUPERMARKET FALL

Our client, NR followed her usual routine and attended her local Woolworths Supermarket to do her weekly grocery shopping.

While walking down the cosmetics and shampoos aisle she suddenly slipped and her left foot went from under her causing her to lose her balance and fall to the left.  She landed awkwardly on her left hand side of her body, and as a result felt immediate pain in her left shoulder, left arm, and buttocks.  She had slipped on clear liquid which was spilt on the floor. Woolworths denied liability.

As a result of her injuries she has ongoing and significant problems with her left shoulder which causes difficulty with dressing and undressing, hanging out clothes, grocery shopping. She has difficulty lifting and bending and problems with her neck and back. Her injuries have had a significant impact on her day‑to‑day life.

At the initial informal settlement conference the matter did not settle, but after protracted settlement negotiations at Woolworths her case settled and she was delighted with the result.

RAINWATER IN SHOPPING CENTRE INJURES ELDERLY CLIENT

Our elderly client visited his local shopping centre on a rainy day. After entering the shopping centre, he used the travelator to get to the lower floor, when he suddenly slipped and fell. It transpired that the surface of the travelator was wet from rainwater, seemingly brought in by another customer’s shoes or umbrella.

Our client sustained multiple injuries including cuts and scarring to his hands and head, and orthopaedic injuries to his right arm, right leg and back. Given our client’s age, his injuries had a profound effect on his independence. He was also badly shaken and lost his confidence in going out alone after the accident.

Our expert public liability compensation lawyers put both the shopping centre and the mall’s cleaning company on notice of our client’s compensation claim. Liability was strongly denied by both defendants, and the shopping centre instructed lawyers to deal with the shopping centre accident on their behalf.

Undeterred, our compensation specialists obtained evidence establishing that both the shopping centre and their cleaners had been negligent. Our personal injury solicitors demonstrated that the cleaners had not deployed suitable wet weather measures in the rainy conditions, and that the shopping centre had not taken the requisite level of care when subcontracting cleaning services to the cleaning company.

The evidence that we obtained convinced both defendants of the strengths of our client’s claim. We were subsequently able to secure our client a compensation settlement without the need to commence court proceedings.

Our client’s claim shows not only the intricacies of shopping centre accident claims, and also the excellent results that can be achieved through perseverance by our specialist public liability lawyers.

PEDESTRIAN TRIPS

Our client was walking through the Pitt Street Mall when she tripped on a covering on a cable, left in situ by workers employed by the Sydney City Council.

Our client suffered a nasty orthopaedic injury from which she made a slow recovery.

Whilst liability was denied by the Sydney City Council the claim was settled for a significant sum at a settlement conference without court proceedings having to be commenced.

FALL IN CLUB

Our client tripped on a microphone cord at a golf club and landed heavily on his shoulder resulting in a significant fracture to his shoulder joint. Our client underwent surgery and made a reasonable recovery. For many months he was unable to attend to the usual work he did on his rural property, and required assistance. Unfortunately our client was involved in a subsequent accident where he injured his other shoulder.

The claim against the club was initially hard fought and the insurer, through its lawyers, aborted several settlement conferences.

However finally, as a hearing date in the District Court approached, the insurer started negotiating on a bona fide basis and the claim was settled for a significant sum.

SHOPPING TRIP ENDS IN DISASTER

Gwen, a 92-year-old lady, tripped and fell from a hole in the tiles of a shopping mall. This resulted in her sustaining an injury. The defendant denied liability and the matter proceeded to a hearing in the District Court of NSW for five days. The client was successful and received a substantial sum for damages.

NASTY SLIP

Jennifer was shopping one Saturday morning when she slipped on a big spill on the floor. Another customer had knocked over a bottle and then had informed a staff member at a nearby register. The staff member finished serving a customer and then called for the cleaners, but in the meantime Jennifer walked past and fell. She suffered whiplash injury to her neck and suffered dizziness and nausea. We resolved the claim by negotiation at a meeting with the lawyer for the retailer.

GROCERY SHOPPING ENDS WITH INJURIES

Bryce was injured whilst attending to his grocery shopping when he slipped on a puddle of water sustaining quite minor injuries to his knee, hip and back. Bryce’s case settled just 3 weeks after commencing proceedings in the District Court against the supermarket.

DISCARDED TROLLEY

Rebecca tripped and fell on an unattended trolley at her local Bunnings store. She sustained an injury to her right shoulder and an aggravation of a previous back injury. She was successful in negotiating a settlement of her claim.

DANCING DISASTER

Jason was enjoying time with his friends at a Sydney nightclub when he tripped over a glass on the dance floor rupturing his Achilles tendon. The nightclub had no adequate system of clearing glasses. The nightclub defended the proceedings but eventually the matter was settled before hearing. Jason will now use his settlement monies for a deposit on a property with his fiancée.

TRIP CASE SETTLES OUT OF COURT

Mrs Renshaw, an elderly woman, suffered injury when she was walking along a footpath with her walking frame. She tripped and fell on a broken pit that hadn’t been repaired despite complaints to the relevant government bodies to do so. Mrs Renshaw suffered severe injuries which greatly reduced her quality of life. Mrs Renshaw’s case was settled before court proceedings had to be commenced and she’ll now receive the treatment and home support she needs.

CHRISTMAS RUINED

Josie was doing her Christmas shopping with her teenage son in a large shopping centre in Sydney on a very wet and rainy day, when she slipped on a pool of water on the floor and sustained an injury to her knee. She suffered ongoing problems with her knee that made it difficult for her to do all her normal household and gardening chores. Josie lives in a large house on an acreage and normally did all the household and gardening chores around the house. We brought a claim on Josie’s behalf against the shopping centre management company and the cleaners of the centre. The claim was settled successfully without having to go to court.

DENTAL DISASTER

Abbey was visiting a motel in Broken Hill when she tripped over a bollard in the dark, landing on her face and breaking a number of teeth. She had extensive dental treatment. A claim was made against the motel based on the negligent placement of the bollard and the lack of lighting. The motel’s insurer was prepared to talk and the claim was settled, without litigation, for the dental expenses plus pain and suffering and costs. It was a very sensible and reasonable outcome.

SLIP IN THE WET

We acted for a lady who was injured when she tripped in the rain on steps leading out of a popular hotel. The hotel had placed non-slip grip on parts of the stairs, but the grip was coming away in a number of places. The stairs, without the strips, were extremely slippery and unsafe. Our client suffered injuries that prevented her from running her B&B business and enjoying activities she loved prior to her injury, such as skiing. Liability was denied by the hotel, but the case was resolved successfully at the hearing.

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I could write a book as to how the last 4 years would have been different if not for Tom and his team.
The support, assistance, advice from the first conversation till even after the settlement was second to none from the team at Stacks Goudkamp.
Four years on and after many downs, my children and I have our lives back.
We are unable to THANK YOU enough, but know that you have changed our lives for the better in so many ways since the accident.

- Andrew and Family
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