A recent High Court ruling has brought out an issue that one should take note: a fall in a car park (or any other location) might not be simply 'bad luck' or purely a 'fault of your own'. In this recent case, a resident successfully sued the MCST of the condominium he was staying in for damages, arising from his fall at the car park.
Another issue is that MCSTs, or other bodies who have control of any site (factories, car parks, construction areas in public locations etc), have to ensure that real risks that may cause injuries to others are adequately and reasonably taken care of. It is not enough to simply argue “but this is what the rest of the world is doing (or not doing)”. As such, it may be prudent for such bodies to take more vigilant care and also to seek the appropriate insurance coverage.
If you have met with such an accident, or if you are the occupier where such an accident had occurred, contact us for a non-obligatory consultation.
The High Court affirmed a claim by a resident of a condominium against its Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST), for being negligent in failing to ensure that the car park was free of oil patches and water puddles;  SGHC 114.
The resident was walking at the basement car park when he slipped and fell after he stepped on what seemed like a normal puddle of water on the ground. It later transpired that the puddle was actually water thrown over a patch of oil (“the puddle”). There is no dispute that the resident saw the puddle and consciously stepped into it. His reason was that there were many other puddles around and he thought it would be inconvenient to avoid all puddles. As a result of the slip accident, the resident sustained injuries to his knee and right shoulder.
The Court was of the view that the MCST owed a duty of care to the resident to exercise reasonable care as it has control of the car park. It was foreseeable that the cars would sometimes leak oil and water on the floor. The residents would often also wash their cars in the car park, resulting in puddles. Therefore, there is a very real risk of residents walking and slipping.
The Court also found that the maintenance system put in place was inadequate and was not sufficiently comprehensive to ensure that the presence of water puddles and oil patches was addressed - (i) the cleaning or security guard services contracts did not specifically provide for the cleaning of such puddles and (ii) the actual practices also showed that there was no proper system in place to address the danger.
The Judge also dismissed the MCST's argument that the contracts were "standard type and used in other condominiums".
Whilst the Court was of the view that the resident’s conduct (of knowingly stepping onto the puddle), although clearly foolish and unwise, was not so reckless or wholly unreasonable that it broke the chain of causation. However, his conduct would affect the apportionment of liability, i.e. who caused the accident.
The High Court held that the MCST should bear 25% of liability.