On 28 November 2016, Sydney Morning Herald reported that a three year old Sydney girl died after being crushed by a stone monument at the Blackhead Bowling Club at Hallidays Point between Foster and Taree in New South Wales’ mid-north coast over the weekend.

The article reported that there had been a party and a group of children were playing near a war memorial out the front of the club.

The children, seemingly innocently enough, were playing and one child climbed the memorial wall and the weight of the child on this apparently unstable wall, has been brought down crushing and fatally injuring the three year old girl.

Was this tragedy preventable?

Whilst it was an absolute tragedy, a question will soon point to whether anybody is liable from a criminal or civil perspective.

In terms of a civil case, the parents of the children and if there were any witnesses to the actual event, could make what is called a nervous shock claim.

A nervous shock claim is a claim made for pure psychiatric harm suffered from witnessing a catastrophic event such as this, or for family members finding out the news of the three year old girl’s death, and psychiatric injury flowing from this news and event.

This claim would operate similar to any other public liability claim and it would have to be demonstrated that the venue was inherently unsafe and that there was a reasonably foreseeable risk of children playing on this wall, and as a result of playing on and around this wall that it could collapse and give way. Alternatively it may also be argued that the monument or wall was shoddily constructed and the builder as well as the occupier club may both have a legal liability.

It would be difficult to suggest if anyone was at fault, whether it be the parents for lack of adequate supervision, the staff of the club for inadequate supervision or warnings about the fragility of this wall, or the Construction company for the workmanship of the wall. This article does not look to suggest or apportion blame, but provide a generic commentary as to what is involved in these types of cases.

All parties involved should seek legal advice. Again what will follow legally will depend upon the intricate details of what exactly occurred.

If you have had an injury in a public place and it is not clear who is at fault, contact Turner Freeman today on 13 43 63. Our expert team at of personal injury lawyers can assist in this regard, and we act a ‘No Win-No Fee‘ basis for public liability claims.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved in this tragedy.