Ms Eileen Monaghan a 54 year old Dunnes Stores Employee who suffered a fracture of her left shoulder when she was caused to slip and fall on a wet floor in Dunnes Store ILAC Centre on the 1st of September 2006 has been awarded general damages of €70,000 by the High Court.
The accident happened when a display containing gift bottles of Olive Oil crashed to the ground creating a hazard from broken glass and spillage of oil.
Ms. Monaghan claimed that Dunnes were negligent in its management of the spillage and that it failed to warn her of its presence or protect her from walking into the area and as a result she fell heavily onto the ground as she approached her Manager to speak to him. Dunnes Stores argued that it had acted with reasonable care for her safety and had cordoned off the area and erected warning signs to protect staff and members of the public from falling. They claimed that Ms Monaghan was guilty of contributory negligence in failing to heed warnings and hand signals allegedly given to her by her Manager before she entered the area. Ms Monaghan to win her case had to establish that Dunnes were negligent in failing to protect her from the spillage which it had created on the floor of its premises on the date of the accident.
The Judge stated that olive oil on a floor surface created a slip hazard which was unique. It is never safe to walk on a floor in which such a substance has been spilled. This was a spillage that had to be removed by chemical means in order to render the floor safe for use. The Judge held that the duty of care of Dunnes in this case was to cordon off the area of the spillage as soon as it was reasonably possible. The Judge found that she was satisfied that Dunnes were liable for her injuries and that she was not guilty of contributory negligence.
As a result of her fall she sustained a fracture of her left shoulder. She was treated with a sling for 6 weeks and had physiotherapy. An MRI scan showed the presence of rotator scuff syndrome. She was referred to an Orthopaedic Surgeon and her shoulder was injected with steroids. She also had an arthroscopy in the course of which a partial tear of the rotator cuff was identified. She had further injections and had a further arthroscopy of her shoulder following which she had extensive physiotherapy.
Ms Monaghan is restricted in her day to day activities. She experiences on-going pain in her shoulder which she takes over the counter medication. Her restriction of shoulder movement will be permanent. Taking all of those factors into account the Judge awarded a sum of €50,000 in respect of general damages to date and a sum of €20,000 into the future. The Judge adjourned the question of what special damages were to be awarded pending further submissions by the parties.
If you have suffered an injury from slipping and falling in a supermarket or public place this article will be of interest to you. Our firm specialise in occupier liability claims. Please feel free to contact Moloney Solicitors today for a consultation to discuss your case.