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April 10, 2015

Can I claim for damages if I slipped and broke my ankle?

What is the test for negligence?

In the case of Klassen v Blue Lagoon Hotel and Conference Centre the court had to decide if a hotel was negligent. The plaintiff sued the defendant hotel for damages suffered by him when he slipped and fell in the defendant’s bathroom as a result of which he sustained an injury to his ankle.

The defendant disputed liability, alleging that the plaintiff was drunk at the relevant time. It also relied on a disclaimer notice to guests, indicating that the hotel would not be responsible for any personal injury to guests whether such injuries or loss were sustained by the negligent or wrongful act of anyone in the employment of or acts on behalf of the defendant.

The Court was satisfied on the evidence before it, that the plaintiff had injured his ankle when he slipped and fell in the defendant’s toilets. It also accepted that when the plaintiff checked in at reception, he completed and signed a registration card and that the said card contained the exemption clause relied on by the defendant. Furthermore, the disclaimer notices were displayed at the motor vehicle entrance and the guardhouse.

The test for negligence is whether a reasonable person, in the same circumstances as the defendant, would have foreseen the possibility of harm to the plaintiff; would have taken steps to guard against the possibility; and whether the defendant failed to take those steps. The evidence established that the defendant had a properly functioning cleaning system in place, and that it took reasonable precautions in ensuring that the toilet facilities were kept in a clean and dry condition and that they did not pose a danger to its guests. Finding no negligence, the Court dismissed plaintiff’s claim.


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