Poor Lighting Accidents

An occupier has a duty of care to entrants that enter the occupier’s property. At times, poor lighting conditions may lead to an accident. Unfortunately, this hazard can often be underestimated by entrants and it is important that people err on the side of caution and take extra care when placed in a situation where poor lighting may conceal potential hazards.

Windley v Gazaland Pty Ltd T/A Gladstone Ten Pin Bowl [2014] QDC 124

Facts

This case involved a 55 year old woman who went to a glow-in-the-dark bowling alley with a co-worker in Gladstone from Albury in the course of her employment. Based on the nature of the business, the bowling alley was very dimly lit. The plaintiff, Ms Windley, had the proper footwear for bowling but could not see the foul line properly due to the lack of lighting and tried to position herself by observing another teen bowling in the lane next to her.

Unfortunately she stepped passed the foul line and slipped; she landed on her left hip causing a subcapital fracture on the left neck of the femur.

The plaintiff first pursued WorkCover and afterwards, sued the bowling alley for compensatory damages including: pain and suffering, out of pocket expenses and economic losses.

Judgment

The court ruled in favour of Ms Windley. The lane past the foul line was made slippery by oil coating the floor. As such, the trial judge considered that a reasonable person in the defendant’s position should have taken proper measures to ensure that the foul line was clearly visible (e.g. reflective strips or better lighting.)

Furthermore, the judge rejected the defendant’s defence of volenti and obvious risk. In the circumstances, the poor lighting made it difficult to clearly delineate the non-slippery area from the slippery area. Ms Windley was not aware of any obvious risk at the time and could not have avoided the hazard by reasonable care and skill.

However, the judge did determine that Ms Windley was contributory negligent of the accident because she did have previous experience in bowling (albeit in lighted conditions). The judge ruled that Ms Windley contributed to her own injuries to the extent of 40%.

Ms Windley was awarded a total of $156,594.03.

Conclusion

In circumstances were poor lighting is a risk factor, it is important to take all reasonable steps to avoid injury. Poor lighting should never be underestimated because doing so may lead to exposure to risks that could have been preventable in adequate lighting conditions.

If someone is injured in an accident due to poor lighting, it is important that they contact a qualified Brisbane Personal Injury Lawyer to be informed of their rights properly based on the unique circumstances of their accident.