There was an interesting decision of the Supreme Court on 22 May 2015 concerning a personal injury accident in North Stradbroke Island about 30km south of Brisbane.
For the complete case, see Morris v Redland City Council & anor  QSC 135.
At about 10pm on 5 February 2010, a man about 40 years old fell 20 meters from the top of a cliff onto Frenchman’s Beach at Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island.
He suffered multiple injuries including a fractured spine and some ribs. His injuries from the accident resulted in numerous dysfunctions including paraplegia.
He sued two entities:
- Redland City Council.
- The company which was the trustee of a trust trading as Ray White North Stradbroke Island.
In trial, Mr Morris presented no evidence against the 2nd defendant.
It was a dark night and Mr Morris was celebrating a friend’s birthday with his mates. None of them were familiar with the area.
Mr Morris was clearly an intelligent individual with no disability or mental acuity. On the night of the accident however, he had consumed some alcohol.
At about 9pm, Mr Morris left a beach house to look for the steps to the beach. Instead of the proper path, he followed a different path that he considered to be a path to the edge of a cliff and leaned against a tree to look for the stairs. He fell down to the beach below.
Was there adequate lighting and signs?
Despite the accusations by Mr Morris that there was inadequate lighting in the area or signs that showed stairs to the beach, evidence presented by Redland City Council showed that this was clearly not the case. There was enough street lighting to be able to read a newspaper by it, and there were signs that were visible by the street lighting.
Was there a path?
The most important allegation for Mr Morris’ case was that there was a “well-worn track/path leading off from the boardwalk.” This path was said by the plaintiff to have caused him to believe that this was the path that led to the beach steps.
Redland City Council countered with their specialist Ms Angela Ritchie. She was the supervisor of the Parks and Conservation team on North Stradbroke Island. She held the position for 10 years at the time of the trial and was familiar with the area because she used to live directly across the road from the headland.
She confirmed no existence of the path after personally traveling the headland to look for the paths Morris claimed existed. This was done 2 weeks after the accident.
Mr Morris’ parents took photos of the area but these photos did not show the existence of a path.
The Court’s Decision
The court held that neither Redland City Council nor the 2nd defendant were responsible for the plaintiff’s accident.
The plaintiff lost the case and was also ordered to pay the 2nd defendant’s costs of the action on an indemnity basis.
What Does This Case Tell Us?
If you have been injured in an accident, it is critically important that you have objective evidence to back up your claim.
If the court deems your case to be a “hopeless case” with no chance of winning, then you run the risk of having to pay the other side’s legal costs.
Advice from East Coast Injury Lawyers
Do not attempt to pursue a claim that has not been thoroughly researched by an accredited specialist in personal injury.
East Coast Injury Lawyers is committed to protecting your legal rights under the laws of negligence by providing you with accurate and timely legal advice.
To reduce your own personal risk in an injury claim, we are always prepared to offer a 100% free, no obligation consultation with one of our accredited specialists in personal injury. Taking advantage of this opportunity will give you the initial legal advice you need to make an informed decision about your claim.
Simply contact us at 1300 720 544 or fill out our case review form.