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WA Public Liability Insurance - Accident at a Business

Discussion in 'Insurance Law Forum' started by Jessspaven, 14 May 2015.

  1. Jessspaven

    Jessspaven Member

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    Hi, my query relates to public liability for a business.
    Today I took my elderly neighbour to a business run by a lady in her 70s from a couple of rooms in a private residence.
    On our way out my neighbour took a fall down a step and landed on her shoulder. She has been taken to hospital in an ambulance where she'll have some diagnostic tests carried out to determine the extent of her injury which, at the moment, does not appear to be a break or dislocation. I asked the business owner if she was insured for public liability and she is not.
    I feel awful for the business owner and want to find out what her liability may be. Is it possible that her home insurance policy could cover this scenario?


    Some other points which may be relevant:

    My neighbour has various health and disability issues and currently receives support for them through the public system.

    Her current state of health is not particularly good, a combination of arthritis in her knees and eye cataracts would certainly have contributed to her fall. Another neighbour who is a qualified nurse and has taken an interest in her care has the opinion that this fall was imminent and that her mobility has deteriorated in recent weeks.

    The business owner was taking measures to ensure my neighbour's safety, and had in fact told her to wait so she could get a chair for her to lean on as a portable hand rail while she eased herself down a ramp. Unfortunately it all happened very quickly and my neighbour misjudged her footing, falling to the ground.

    No money has changed hands as yet, we were dropping off some items for repair to collect at a later date. We were in the carport at the time of the accident, not inside the rooms dedicated to the running of the business.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jessspaven,

    You would have to read the business owner's insurance policy to determine what exactly was covered. However, in any event public liability only arises where there is negligence.

    In WA an occupier only be found to be negligent to an entrant for an injury they suffer on their property if the occupier fails to take precautions against risks of harm that are foreseeable and not insignificant and in the circumstances a reasonable person in their position would have taken those precautions.

    In this case, it appears that the reason for the fall was not so much some significant risk posed by the step itself (such as it being unusually high, slippery or not visible) but your neighbour's state of health including her limited sight and mobility.

    An occupier is not required to make their place of business or residence incident proof against anyone from toddlers to the elderly. That is not what their duty of care involves.

    In addition, if there was some basis for finding negligence against the occupier the cost of pursuing the proceedings would likely outweigh their utility. Old claimants are generally not entitled to the high quantum heads of damage such as loss of future income and future costs of living and damages associated with the premature loss of health and ability in life.

    So based on the info you have provided, I am doubtful that your neighbour would have an action against the business owner and even if she did it may not be worth pursuing.

    Good on you for being such a caring and helpful neighbour!
     
  3. Jessspaven

    Jessspaven Member

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    Thanks Sophea, I had given up on getting a response! Well I'm relieved to hear that! Thankfully she is now doing quite well and although sore, the injury isn't as serious as I'd first feared.
    I really appreciate your comprehensive answer to my query, thanks for your time and effort!

    Jessica


    Sophea
     
  4. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    No worries Jess. I had actually replied several days ago but the post got lost in cyberspace!
     

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