If a person is injured because of another person’s negligence, they can bring a compensation claim for personal injuries.
Unfortunately, claimants aren’t automatically given compensation for their injuries.
Instead, they must prove why they should be compensated.
To do this, a claimant must prove that they suffered loss caused by the other person’s negligence.
Helen* could not prove this critical link, so her claim was dismissed.
Read on to learn what was wrong with Helen’s case (and how to avoid making the same mistakes).
Helen claimed that she was walking through parklands while watching over her young daughter riding a bicycle.
She saw her daughter lose control of her bicycle, careen off the footpath and begin speeding downhill towards a lake.
Helen ran after her daughter, but her foot became wedged somehow, causing her to fall.
As a result, she sustained spiral fractures to her left tibia and fibula (serious left leg fractures).
She had to have surgery to correct her fractures and needed to take five months off work. She struggled to keep up with her clinical duties as a registered nurse, having to take regular breaks.
About nine months later, Helen returned to the place where she fell.
While she was there, she saw what looked like the top of a wooden post sticking out of the ground near the footpath. When she saw this, she concluded that her foot must have become wedged between the post and the path, causing her to fall.
Helen brought a claim for personal injuries against the local Council, claiming the Council was negligent by not removing the wooden post.
The Council argued that Helen did not sustain her injuries the way she said she did.
The Council looked at evidence from a paramedic who helped Helen in the parklands, and a nurse who saw Helen at the hospital. Based on their medical notes, it appeared that Helen actually injured herself by stepping into the lake to stop her daughter from falling in.
The Council also obtained evidence from a soil erosion expert, who said that it was likely the post was underground at the time of the incident. That expert said the wooden post probably only became exposed some months after the event, during the wet season.
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Helen’s claim went to trial in a Court.
The issue was whether Helen could prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the wooden post played a role in causing her injuries.
The problem for Helen was, what she had told people changed regularly.
…She told her version of events differently to different people.
…She told a 000 operator that she had tripped (and did not mention her foot being trapped).
…She told a paramedic that she fell into the lake.
…She told a doctor that she injured herself and then continued to run down to the lake
The Court decided that, based on the evidence available, it was more probable that Helen was injured when she fell into the lake (not when stepping off the footpath).
For any personal injuries claim to be successful, there must be sufficient evidence to back it up.
In Helen's case, her primary evidence was her recollection of what happened.
Unfortunately, her recollection kept changing. Because of this, the Judge was reluctant to rely on Helen's memory.
Helen’s other evidence was the existence of the post. Unfortunately, she could not prove that the post was even exposed on the day of the accident, because she did not go back to check until nine months had passed.
Because Helen didn’t have sufficient evidence, she could not prove, on the balance of probabilities, that she was injured the way she said she was.
Sadly for Helen, this meant her claim was dismissed.
Helen’s case demonstrates the importance of finding and securing evidence fast.
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 McAllister v Brisbane City Council  QDC 94
* The names and narrative have been altered but the facts of the case in regards to payments, liability and the Judge's findings on the evidence are reported as written in the judgement.