The plaintiff in this matter was a 50 year old woman employed as a registered nurse at Logan Hospital in the Adolescent Health Unit. Due to the nature of the patients that the plaintiff had charge of, being those needing treatment for mental health conditions, she was required to undergo an aggressive behavioral management course at a training centre. The floor within the training centre was covered by a 2cm deep padded mat that acted to soften the floor surface and participants were required to wear closed-in footwear.
On the third morning of the course, having completed the theoretical aspect of the training, participants were trained by two instructors on physical self-defense techniques. The first lesson involved a participant standing opposite the instructor, lifting one foot up, stamping on the instructor’s shin, putting their foot back down and sliding backwards away from the instructor. On attempting the maneuver, the plaintiff’s foot stuck to the floor mat when she tried to slide away from the instructor, causing her to fall backward onto her left hand, which she had extended behind herself as she fell to the floor.
Despite the parties’ differing versions of what instruction was given to participants, McGill SC DCJ found it clear that part of the instruction was that a participant’s foot was required to be slid backward across the matting rather than being lifted and placed in the usual way of walking backwards. He decided that the risk of injury to the plaintiff could have been minimised by a process of instruction, which involved splitting up the technique and teaching different parts separately before they were combined. McGill SC DCJ further found that it was not reasonable to teach the technique as a combined maneuver, as the instructor had, and that it was negligent for the defendant to have done so.
The court found that the plaintiff was entitled to recover $60,000 as compensatory damages from the defendant and an order that the defendant pay the plaintiff’s assessed cost of the action was made.
Within Queensland, most employees undertake training as part of their commencing or ongoing employment. At Gouldson Injury Law, we represent people who are injured in various circumstances through no fault of their own. Injury law is all that we do and we take pride in doing it well.
If your circumstances sound similar to those described above, we encourage you to contact one of our personal injury compensation experts on (07) 3009 7000 for a free, no obligations assessment of your claim.
Thanks to Shane Lawlor – Lawyer at Gouldson Legal for providing this article.
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