Strong v Woolworths – Impact on Public Liability Claims

In 2020, Carbone Lawyers launched its brand new podcast “The Law Lab”.

The current Stage 4 restrictions in force in Victoria have placed the production of further episodes on hold, however, in a new series of articles we will round up some of the highlights from our first 10 episodes.

In this week’s look at The Law Lab archives, we look at episode 7, which focused on Public Liability claims.

The 2012 High Court decision in the Strong v Woolworths set a leading precedent for Public Liability claims.

The case itself dealt with a 2004 incident in which Kathryn Strong (the plaintiff) who required the use of crutches slipped when the tip of her crutch came into contact with a chip lying on the floor of an area occupied by Woolworths in a shopping centre in Taree.

In this episode, Managing Partner Tony Carbone, Head of Personal Injury John Karantzis and Lawyer Stacey Patsias discussed the reasons why the case was so significant.

Whilst Mrs Strong lost at first instance and in the Court of Appeal, the decision was overturned at the High Court.

“The main issue was the maintenance schedule and how often they should clean and maintain the floor,” Ms Patsias said.

“The High Court decided it should be no more than 20 minutes.”

Mr Karantzis said the judgment was so significant because of how the facts were judged by the High Court.

“We say this is probably one of the leading judgements,” he said.

“The courts had to consider how long this piece of chip had been lying on the floor.

“Was it for 15 minutes, 20 minutes or three hours? In the end they determined it was for the long period of time from 8 am to 12.30 pm as opposed to a shorter two-hour window.”

Mr Carbone said that one of the biggest changes since the decision was made was the Court’s expectations of Occupiers.

“There’s been a lot of cases and one of the critical components is that if it’s a highly trafficked area, the Courts have said the duty of the Occupier is a lot higher,” he said.

So, what should you do if you are injured in a shopping centre, a sidewalk or even a private car park?

With a statute of limitation of three years from the date of injury in such cases in Victoria, you should be seeking legal advice as soon as possible and ensure you retain as much evidence as you can.

You can listen to the full episode below and get in touch with Carbone Lawyers today if you have been injured in a public or privately occupied place.

This article is general information only. It is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact us.

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