Court finds occupier not negligent when person injured after falling in dark, unlit driveway

The Victorian Court of Appeal recently considered whether an occupier, in this case the owner of a house and bed and breakfast accommodation, was negligent when they failed to provide lighting in a dark section of a driveway.

The occupier had gone on a holiday and left someone staying at the premises. The occupier had unplugged the sensor light that lit the dark driveway before they left. The person bringing the legal action, the Applicant, was staying at the premises. The Applicant’s evidence was that they injured their shoulder when they fell, after stepping into a puddle and slipping on a sleeper whilst walking down the dark drive way. The Applicant argued that they fell because they could not see where they were going and that the occupier was negligent because the area was not lit when they fell.

The Court of Appeal found that the occupier was not negligent in not providing lighting as a reasonable occupier would have expected that the person staying at their premises would have used their own artificial lighting, such as a torch, to prevent such an accident.

Erickson V Bagley [2015] VSCA 220

Judges: Kyrou JA and Kaye JA

Date of Judgement: 25 August 2015