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Initial reporting of injury of vital importance

Apolloni v Traffic Technologies Management Division Pty Ltd [2012] QSC 070 Henry J
20 March 2012

Background

The worker was employed as a traffic controller. She alleged that on 2 July 2007 she arrived at work in Innisfail around 6.20am. While walking from her car to the location of the pre-start meeting she tripped, miss-stepped or slipped while stepping from the road onto the kerb and suffered a serious ligament strain to her ankle.

The facts

Quantum and contributory negligence were agreed prior to trial so only liability was in issue at trial. There was no question that the incident occurred, but the time and cause of it were seriously in issue.

The worker's two main allegations were that the employer was negligent for requiring or allowing her to attend work at or around dawn without providing a torch and for not warning her to not attend work until she could move around safely. There was no allegation of any fault with the kerb or road.

WorkCover alleged that the incident occurred shortly before 8am in daylight (sunrise was at 6:47am) and that even if it did occur earlier, there was sufficient street lighting for the worker to see. Alternatively, if there was poor lighting, it did not cause the injury as the worker had seen the kerb sufficiently to step up onto it.

The worker was not required to attend work until shortly before her pre-start meeting commenced at 8am.

Judgement

His Honour found the worker to be an unsatisfactory witness. She was unable to adequately explain why she was at work over 90 minutes before she was required and could not explain why the incident report and application for compensation recorded the time of the incident as 8am. His Honour preferred the evidence of another witness who said he arrived at the site at 7.30am. Both the worker and this witness gave evidence that he arrived on site before the worker. The witness had kept a contemporaneous diary of the events of the morning.

The Court found that the incident occurred between 7.40 and 7.50am. Because his Honour found the event occurred in daylight, there was no need for him to consider the other specific allegations of the negligence made by the worker.

The worker's claim was dismissed with no order as to costs.