Assistance at home: duty to helpers

A recent case confirms occupiers of land or premises owe a duty of care towards visitors. In Burton v Brooks [2011] NSWCA 175 the Court confirmed, on appeal, a decision to award damages to Mr Brooks who was injured whilst on Mr Burton’s land.

Mr Brooks was assisting Mr Burton lop branches from several trees in his backyard, which were located near an empty swimming pool. They had been doing so for about half an hour, when they came across a ‘springy’ branch. Mr Brooks held the branch, whilst Mr Burton began to cut through it with a chainsaw. However, he did not manage to cut all the way through. Mr Brooks tugged on the branch, which snapped free of the tree. He fell backwards, into the empty swimming pool, and suffered serious injuries.

The Court held that Mr Burton was negligent by not taking precautions to prevent such an accident. He could, for example, have placed a barrier along the edge of the pool or simply covered it. It was totally foreseeable that, if someone tripped or lost their balance, they would fall into the pool. The Court awarded My Brooks damages, but discounted them by 25% as Mr Brooks also had an obligation to look after himself.

If you have been involved in trip and fall incident, you may be entitled to compensation.

For advice, please contact:
Matthew Bridger | e: | p: 02 6206 1300
Note: This publication is intended only to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render legal advice. No reader should act on the basis of any matter contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice.