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Catastrophic Accidents

Catastrophic injuries have devastating and life altering consequences which require ongoing care and financial assistance of the injured person. This includes injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputation injuries, and wrongful death. This can occur due to someone else’s negligence. There are strict time limits to observe in the case of a catastrophic injury, usually 3 years from the accident, however certain exceptions to exist.

Please read our page on Catastrophic Injuries for more information.

Duty of care after explosion 960 577 aelegal

Duty of care after explosion

BAKER -v- LOCK [2018] WADC 48

The plaintiff, Mr Jesse Baker (Mr Baker) visited Mr Robert Lock (Robert) at his residence (premises) to discuss and pay for repairs that Robert had agreed to make to Mr Baker’s motorcycle. Whilst the two men and another man, were seated in a rear shed at the premises, Robert lit a cigarette lighter proximate to an open paint thinners tin or drum causing an immediate explosion and consequent fire which consumed the shed. All three men suffered burns.

Mr Baker sued William and Lynette Lock, parents to Robert (Mr and Mrs Lock), as owners of the premises by alleging that they owed him a duty of care, breached that duty and caused his injuries pursuant to the Occupiers Liability Act 1985 (OLA).

The issues for determination were as follows:

  1. Was Mr Baker injured in the explosion and fire at the premises? 

The Court concluded that “… I [t was] am satisfied that Mr Baker suffered serious burns as a direct consequence of the explosion and fire caused by Robert lighting a cigarette lighter which ignited vapour from an open thinners drum in the rear shed of the premises… 

  1. Did Mr and Mrs Lock occupy the premises pursuant to the OLA or were they landlords at the relevant time? 

The Court found that it was “… satisfied on all of the evidence that Mr and Mrs Lock left Perth and agreed with their son Robert and daughter Ms Lock that they would stay in the premises…”, thus not being occupiers but landlords to Robert.

  1. If Mr and Mrs Lock were occupiers or landlords, what, if any, was the statutory duty of care they owed to Mr Baker?

The Court indicated that it found the “… arrangement between Mr and Mrs Lock and Robert…was a periodic verbal tenancy agreement where Mr and Mrs Lock were the landlords and Robert and Ms Lock the tenants…”, hence Robert had a duty of care as occupier of the premises to all lawful entrants. 

  1. Was there any other common law duty of care they owed to Mr Baker? 

The Court concluded that “Although Mr and Mrs Lock owed Mr Baker a common law duty of care as landlords due to an invitee to the premises, their duty did not extend to the danger created by Robert.  Mr and Mrs Lock owed Mr Baker no other common law duty …

Although Mr and Mrs Lock owed a duty of care to Mr Baker pursuant to the provisions of the OLA and also at common law, those duties had no application in this case.” Because even if Mr Baker was able to establish duty and breach as pleaded, none of those breaches caused his injuries.  It was not the storage of flammable substances in a shed to which visitors had access that caused the explosion. Rather the explosion was caused by Robert introducing an ignition source proximate to an open thinners drum. It follows that Mr Baker’s claim against Mr and Mrs Lock was dismissed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Catastrophic injury claims scheme commenced 1 July 2016 960 567 aelegal

Catastrophic injury claims scheme commenced 1 July 2016

Forming an integral part of the current Compulsory Third Party insurance scheme (CTP) in Western Australia, which provides cover for drivers and/or owners of registered motor vehicles on Western Australian roads, a no-fault catastrophic injury scheme commenced on 1 July 2016 (the Catastrophic Scheme).

Prior to the Catastrophic Scheme you had prove fault against a driver of a vehicle in order to make a successful insurance claim under the CTP. Vehicle passengers, pedestrians and cyclists can also claim against such driver to obtain compensation for their injuries from motor vehicle crash. If you are also at fault, together with the driver, you may still have a valid claim but the amount of compensation that may we awarded will be reduced according to your degree of fault.

Find out more about motor vehicle accidents. 

Recently, the WA State Government has introduced the no-fault Catastrophic Scheme which commenced on 1 July 2016.  This means that the CTP will be extended to provide care and support to all people catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents irrespective of fault. Catastrophic injures are defined as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, multiple amputations, severe burns or permanent traumatic blindness.

Find out more about catastrophic accidents. 

In other words, catastrophically injured persons resulting from motor vehicle accidents from 1 July 2016 regardless of fault, will be entitled to make a claim for care and support on a consistent basis.

People are paying extra for no-fault insurance when their vehicle registration is renewed from 1 July 2016.