Big W employee awarded more than $500,000 in damages after being shoved in the shins

28 SEP 2018


A young woman who was injured whilst working at Big W has successfully sued her employer in negligence, with the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory awarding more than $500,000 in damages.


In February 2013, Jessica Lewis commenced part-time work at a Big W store, operated by Woolworths Ltd. On 13 January 2016, Ms Lewis was struck in the shins by a work cage which moved after being hit by a forklift. She extended her back and suffered immediate pain in her back and legs.

On 2 April 2016, Ms Lewis was involved in a minor car accident which exacerbated the pain in her back, legs and feet.

Court proceedings

Ms Lewis commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory against Woolworths, in negligence and claimed damages. Woolworths admitted breach of duty of care. The matter proceeded to hearing as to an assessment of damages.


His Honour Mossop J found that Ms Lewis suffered ongoing pain. The accident, involving a sudden “jerk”, inflamed a pre-existing, but mild, spinal condition. Her depression only emerged after the accident and hence is directly caused by the accident. Whether her response to the pain was excessive is irrelevant.

Mossop J also noted that chronic pain, whilst not always physically obvious, can still significantly interfere with quality of life and capacity to work, particularly to engage in repetitive actions.

His Honour assessed Ms Lewis’ damages at a total sum of $543,243.00, including $170,000 for general damages.

For more information on the above contact Joe Bonura on (02) 4626 5077 or

This article first appeared in the CCH Australian Tort, Personal Injury, Health and Medical Law Tracker and is reproduced in full with permission from CCH, a division of Wolters Kluwer Australia:

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

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