Council sued over step fall
Wollongong City Council has been ordered to pay over $600,000 in damages after a man was injured on a mountain walkway.
Former disability support worker Bernard Williams was with a client at the Mount Keira Summit Park, in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, on May 17, 2016 when he tripped on a stepped pathway.
He suffered a broken wrist and elbow, requiring five operations and ongoing rehabilitation.
The Wollongong District Court heard that the injuries from the accident prevented him from returning to work, and significant impacted the way he lived his life.
Mr Williams said there were no markings to indicate the walkway was stepped.
Wollongong District Court Judge Mathew Dicker found the Wollongong City Council owed a duty of care to prevent foreseeable injuries from use of the park's amenities.
Judge Dicker found that a reasonable person may not have realised the pathway was stepped, so the injury was therefore a foreseeable risk.
“I find that if the step had been painted a bright colour, as it was painted after the accident, or tactile indicators and a hand railing had been inserted before at least the first step, the plaintiff would have been alerted to the presence of the first step as he proceeded towards the pathway,” he said.
“He would have taken precautions in going down the stepped pathway and would not have been injured.”
Mr Williams was awarded over $700,000 in damages, minus 15 per cent for contributory negligence, bringing the final total to $608,132.44.
Judge Dicker said Mr Williams knew other parts of the park had steps, and that the pathway sloped downwards.
Australian building codes do not have statutory requirements to mark the step.
Wollongong City Council says it is considering whether or not to appeal the decision.