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Posted 10 March 2015
Category: Strata Insurance, Public Liability
Unfortunately, people slipping (or tripping) and falling is a fairly common occurrence on common property of residential and commercial premises.
If a ‘slip and fall’ occurs and injury is suffered, there is a distinct possibility that the injured person (that is, the plaintiff) will make a claim against the owner corporation for damages alleging negligence and breaches of various safety statutes. Common causes include factors relating to poor floor surfaces, contamination, the environment, footwear and people.
Whilst owners corporations and managing agents may implement measures and systems to reduce the risk of slip and trips (such as the placement of warning signs and a system of regular inspections), it may have been the plaintiff’s actions or inaction which contributed to the accident.
If a court finds an owner/occupier responsible for the accident, the plaintiff’s entitlement to damages may be reduced if the plaintiff was also contributory negligent. A plaintiff is guilty of contributory negligence at common law or under the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW), if it can be established that one of the causes of the accident was the failure by the plaintiff to take reasonable care for his/her own safety. The below cases illustrate this concept.
As can be seen from the above examples, the finding of contributory negligence depends on the individual facts and circumstances (and the court’s own assessment) of each case. Owners and occupiers should not take for granted that their existing safety measures and systems (if any) would absolve liability. For example, warning signs may be not visible or apparent or the known hazard was not repaired in a timely manner.
***The information contained in this article is general information only and not legal advice. The currency, accuracy and completeness of this article (and its contents) should be checked by obtaining independent legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon its contents in any way.