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Negligence – Personal Injury Accidents

Causation: Facts: Sufficiency of evidence: Inferences to be drawn from evidence: Manhole covers: Slips: Slippery substances: Site inspections: Foreseeable danger

A conclusion that a contaminant that had caused the respondent to slip had been present upon a manhole cover during a site inspection by the appellant had been within the ambit of inferences to have been drawn from the evidence.


Garner -v- Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust (2004)

The defendant (W) appealed a decision that it was liable for personal injuries sustained by the claimant (G) during a fall at its hospital. G had slipped on a wet slippery substance which had collected within a depression in a galvanised manhole cover. W stated that if it had been aware from its system of site inspections that the manhole cover had been hazard it would have ensured that the situation had become safe. It further stated that shortly before the accident the manhole cover had formed part of a site inspection and had not been found to have been in an unsafe condition. The judge’s central basis for finding against W was that staining that had been visible on the manhole cover could only have represented the presence of a substance that had accumulated over a period of time and must have therefore been present at the time of the site inspection. By this appeal W argued that that finding had not been open to the judge on the evidence.

HELD: The combination of the evidence before the judge suggested that the staining on the manhole cover was due to a slippery or slimey contaminant at a time when it could and should have come to W’s attention during a site inspection. Accordingly, the conclusion reached by the judge had been within the ambit of inferences of fact to have been drawn from the evidence.

Appeal dismissed.


“Lawtel”: 1.3.04