Slips, trips and falls down stairs are unfortunately common and can result in an individual suffering a serious injury.

If an injury occurs due to the carelessness or negligence of another person, it may be possible to bring a claim for damages.

In order to bring a successful damages claim against an individual or an organisation you must show that the risk of harm was foreseeable and that it would have been reasonable for the person/entity to take action to prevent the risk.

Common slip, trip and fall incidents include:

  • slipping and falling on fluid left on the ground;
  • slipping and falling on slippery flooring in a shop;
  • tripping over objects, such as a cable;
  • tripping and falling due to poor lighting;
  • tripping and falling due to broken steps; and
  • tripping and falling due to a lack of handrails.

The individual circumstances of an incident will affect whether a damages claim can be successfully brought against a Defendant.

A Recent Successful Claim

In Towers v State of NSW [2015] NSWDC 10 a casual cleaner at a public school was injured when he fell down 4 external fibro cement stairs.

The owner and occupier of the premises had previously recognised the risk that the stairs posed, and applied a non-slip paint on 2 different occasions. However, in the 3 years prior to the incident they had failed to reapply the non-slip paint.

Painting the stairs with non-slip paint was a ‘reasonable precaution’ that the defendant should have taken. Because the stairs had been previously painted with non-slip paint the school could not argue that they were not aware that the stairs were subject to wear and were dangerously slippery when wet.

The Court in this case held that the Defendant was liable.

A Recent Unsuccessful Case

A risk must not be an obvious risk, such that common knowledge would tell a reasonable person to take precautions.

In the recent case of Jackson v McDonald’s Australia Ltd [2014] NSWCA 162 an individual fell down the internal staircase of McDonald’s. The individual claimed that he slipped after the sole of his shoe became wet from the recently cleaned floors in the restaurant.

The Court of Appeal found that the risk was an obvious risk and that a reasonable person would have realised that traversing the stairs with wet shoe soles would have involved a risk of slipping.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.

Ebony Morrison
Solicitor
Compensation Law