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Graeme Kirkham Adelaide Public Liability Lawyers

Public Liability Claims and Cases

What is public liability?

Public liability claims can arise when you have suffered an injury due to the fault or negligence of another party while in a public area or on private premises. At LawCall we’ve handled a wide and varied range of Public Liability cases, from slips, trips and falls in public places like shopping centres and playgrounds to accidents on private property and dog attacks.

What needs to be proven?

At LawCall we’ll be only too happy to investigate whether your injury is as a result of the negligence of another party – note that simply having an injury without proving negligence is not enough to form a case. A good place to start might be one of our free 60-minute, no-obligation initial consultations.

Examples of Public Liability cases

The case of the trip in a nightclub car park

Summary: The client had attended a local nightclub and at the end of the evening was going out to her vehicle in the car park of the nightclub when she fell down a step, fracturing her ankle and requiring surgery.

The Legal Strategy: We argued on behalf of the client that the car park was inadequately lit and the step our client fell down was not properly marked. Accordingly, we argued that the nightclub operator and the owner of the car park failed to fulfil their duty of care owed to the client. Witnesses were interviewed to refute any allegation that consumption of alcohol contributed to the fall. Photos of the layout at the time of the fall were obtained promptly. Proceedings were issued and the matter settled soon after.

The outcome: The case settled on confidential terms, however we were able to obtain compensation for the client’s pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, voluntary assistance provided by the family and past and future loss of earnings.

The case of a faulty playground slide

Summary: Our client attended a popular playground with her young son who wished to go down a long slide with our client. Our client slid down the slide but on coming off the end of the slide fractured her ankle when her foot caught on a protruding timber batten. Liability was denied by the local Council.

The Legal Strategy: We obtained photographic evidence of the condition of the landing area both prior to the accident and subsequent to the accident. Requests for appropriate documentation from the Council were inadequately responded to. Proceedings were issued with full disclosure ultimately being made by the Council. Disclosure indicated works done to the slide were did not conform with Australian Standards and the slide and landing area were non-compliant with Australian Standards. The matter settled after a settlement conference.

The Outcome: The case settled on confidential terms, however we were able to obtain compensation for the client’s pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses and voluntary assistance provided by the client’s family. The slide and landing area were modified after proceedings were issued, hopefully in compliance with Australian Standards.

The case of a fall over a hotel balustrade

Summary: Our client had attended an Adelaide historic hotel for a work function in an upstairs function room. On leaving the function room our client fell over a balustrade on a landing, falling to a level below. Our client sustained injury to his neck and had time off work. Liability was denied by the hotel.

The Legal Strategy: We engaged an expert to inspect the balustrade and to comment on whether it complied with appropriate building codes. As modifications were done in recent times to the hotel including the stairway, it was argued that the balustrade should have been in compliance with the building code at the time. It was not. Legal proceedings were issued against several parties including the licensee of the hotel and the owner of the hotel. The matter settled after proceedings were issued.

The outcome: The case settled on confidential terms, however we were able to obtain compensation for the client’s pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, voluntary services provided by our client’s family and loss of income.

The case of the shopping centre slip

Summary: Slips in supermarkets and shopping centres are a frequent occurrence. This case is one of many types of similar cases that occur. Our client was shopping at a local shopping centre and walking past the food court, when she slipped on a clear liquid substance. She sustained injury to her back and leg.

The Legal Strategy: We firstly secured from the shopping centre operator CCTV footage of the incident. Shop owners were interviewed in relation to the system of cleaning and inspection in place at the shopping centre. We argued on behalf of the client that the shopping centre was required to have a regular system of cleaning and inspection in place and the shopping centre failed to fulfil its duty of care owed to the client. Liability was denied by the shopping centre but after comprehensive discussions with the lawyers acting for the shopping centre, the matter was settled on favourable terms.

The outcome: We were able to obtain compensation for the client’s pain and suffering and past and future medical expenses. No claim was made for past and future loss of earnings as the client was retired.

The case of the dog bite

Summary: Our client was a charity collector and her work involved walking door to door. Whilst she was leaving a property, a dog ran from the back yard, biting our client. Our client sustained a laceration to her leg as well as significant psychological trauma including fear of dogs and of walking down streets.

The Legal Strategy: Although the occupier of the premises denied being the owner of the dog, we were able to show that the occupier was liable due to a breach of specific animal legislation. Liability was denied by the insurance company acting for the occupier. Proceedings were issued and the matter settled after a settlement conference.

The outcome: The client obtained compensation for her pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses and past and future loss of earnings.

The case of the defective restaurant chair

Summary: Our client was dining at a restaurant and when in the process of sitting down at the table and bringing in the chair, he caught his finger between the seat base and seat frame suffering a crush and partial amputation of the tip of the finger. Liability was denied.

The Legal Strategy: We obtained statements from witnesses present at the time and also photographic evidence of the relevant chair. The chair seat was shown to be inadequately secured to the base allowing it to move away from the base creating a gap for our client’s finger to become caught in. The matter was settled on confidential terms after evidence was provided to the insurer and a settlement conference occurred.

The Outcome: The client received compensation for his pain and suffering, medical expenses and voluntary assistance provided by his family.

The case of the dance floor fall

Summary: Our client attended a dance at her local hotel. Whilst dancing she tripped on a protruding section of the floor, fell to the ground and sustained a fractured wrist. Liability was denied and proceedings were issued.

The Legal Strategy: Our client had photographic evidence of the part of the dance floor that she tripped on. After we spoke to witnesses, it was apparent that the floor had been modified in that a section of board had been inserted in the floor without properly being secured to the bearer and thereby creating a tripping hazard. We argued on behalf of the client that the hotel was required to have a floor safe for use (in this case dancing) and therefore should have had a proper system of inspection in place, which would have identified the insecure floorboard. The matter settled after a settlement conference.

The outcome: The case settled on confidential terms, however we were able to obtain compensation for the client’s pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses and voluntary assistance provided by her husband. No claim was made for past and future loss of earnings as the client was retired.

The case of a trip over store display items

Summary: Our client was shopping at a local furniture store when she tripped on legs of a table, which was in the process of being erected by the store for display. The dismantled components protruded onto the walkway. Liability was denied.

The Legal Strategy: We argued that the store failed to keep its walkways clear and in the circumstances whereby goods on display attract shoppers’ attention whilst walking through the store, it was not unreasonable for our client to have not seen the dismantled item. The case settled shortly after proceedings were issued and following a settlement conference.

The outcome: The case was settled on confidential terms with the client obtaining compensation for her pain and suffering, medical expenses, voluntary assistance provided by her family and loss of earnings.

The case of a fall at an exhibition

Summary: Our client attended an ice exhibition at a well-known tourist destination in Victoria. After going through an exit door from a dark room that contained the exhibition, which was basically a transportable building, our client fell down makeshift stairs when she opened the exit door. Our client sustained a fractured ankle, which required plates and screws.

The Legal Strategy: We were able to represent the client despite the accident occurring in Victoria due to our experience in Victorian law. Investigations revealed that a thick plastic curtain hung in front of the door, impeding the visibility of the client. The door in itself being a refrigerated type door was difficult to open and when opened, opened outwards with there being no landing to step onto before the steps. It was argued that the combination of all factors made the method of exiting the building dangerous and the tourist establishment failed to fulfil the duty of care owed to the client. Evidence was obtained as to how other stairs were designed for other buildings in the compound, all of which had appropriate landings in place. Proceedings were issued out a Victorian court and the matter settled after a settlement conference.

The outcome: The case settled on confidential terms, however we were able to obtain compensation for the client’s pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, voluntary assistance provided by husband and loss of income as a self employed proprietor.

The case of the slippery access path to shops

Summary: While attending his local shopping centre, our client slipped when walking down an access path leading to the shops. He sustained injuries to his back and arm. Liability was denied by the shopping centre.

The Legal Strategy: We investigated the matter and obtained evidence that the access path whilst not being a formally designated walkway to the shopping centre, was a well-used access route, which the shopping centre ought to have been aware of. The path comprised rocks, which were slippery due to moss. It was also argued that as it was nighttime, there was inadequate lighting of the path. It was argued that the accident could have been avoided by the shopping centre blocking off the access to the path at minimal expense. Liability was denied and legal proceedings were issued. The matter settled at a settlement conference.

The outcome: The client was able to obtain compensation from pain and suffering and past and future medical expenses. No claim was made for loss of income as he was retired.