Grapes have a notorious reputation for causing slips in supermarkets. Those injured often make claims for significant amounts of money as compensation. This is what happened to 51-year-old Queensland man Raymond Polwarth who made a compensation claim after slipping on a grape in a Woolworths store in February 2014. Mr Polwarth sought more than $140,000 in damages for medical and projected care expenses.
Mr Polwarth was a disability pensioner who had amputated his right leg after a motorcycle accident in his 20s. He claimed that the fall had reinjured his stump and rendered him severely disabled, unable to walk, drive, or care independently for himself. Following this, unbeknownst to Mr Polwarth, Woolworths installed secret cameras to undergo surveillance of Mr Polwarth’s home on two occasions in 2016. The video footage revealed Mr Polwarth walking, standing, driving, and even playing golf, for extended periods of time. While Woolworths did not deny fault in causing the fall, they disputed the extent of the injury and the prospective medical treatment that he would require.
Following the video evidence, Judge Searles from the Brisbane District Court stated that
“the level of functioning of the Plaintiff [Mr Polwarth] is self-evidence and reflects that his ability to function has not been significantly curtailed… the surveillance footage speaks for itself”.
As a result, Judge Searles awarded Mr Polwarth an amount of $11,111. This was to cover general damages, medical expenses, and other care expenses incurred following the incident. While far from the $140,000 initially claimed by Mr Polwarth, Judge Searles ruled that there was no basis for awarding such a great amount. Mr Polwarth did not appear to be unable to care for himself, or require extended medical treatment.
It comes as no surprise that grocery giants like Woolworths will do what it takes to determine the extent of injuries and the accuracy of accusations in order to avoid an influx of large claims by shoppers looking for an easy payout. Genuine injuries and expenses, however, are still considered by Courts to determine a reasonable amount of damages to be paid.
If you have experienced an injury in a store and believe you may have a claim for compensation, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8917 8700 or fill out the enquiry box and we will get back to you ASAP.