Did the employer have vicarious liability for the negligence of one of its bicycle couriers? Which case won?
Man struck and injured by cyclist in uniform of courier company
On 22 December 1994 as he was leaving a building in Sydney, a man stepped onto the footpath, was struck by a cyclist and knocked to the ground.
He sustained a knee injury and required surgery.
He also suffered a period where he was unfit for work and was left with a 25% permanent deficit in his knee.
The cyclist, who had gone over the handlebars of his bicycle in the collision, stood up, said: “Sorry mate” and left the scene.
His identity remains unknown. However, what is known is that he was wearing a uniform emblazoned with the name of a courier business.
Injured man sues courier business for negligence and case goes to High Court
The injured man sued the courier business for negligence in the NSW District Court, seeking approximately $175,000 in damages.
When the District Court ruled against the injured man, he appealed to the NSW Court of Appeal.
When the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal, he appealed to the High Court of Australia.
In the High Court, the question to be decided was whether the courier company had vicarious liability for the negligence of the unknown bicycle courier. This turned on whether the bicycle courier was an employee of the courier business, or an independent contractor.