Olive Loughrey a 62 year old lady who sustained significant personal injuries when she was caused to trip and fall on a footpath in Dun Laoghaire in July 2002 has been awarded damages in excess of €260,000 by the High Court.
Ms Loughrey suffered injuries to her wrist, left shoulder back and head in the accident. She was unable to return to work after the accident. She issued proceedings against Dun Laoghaire County Council and the matter came on for Hearing before Judge Cross in the High Court in November 2012.
The Defendants contested liability on the basis of their liability as Highway Authority to Pedestrians.
Ms Loughreys Consultant Litigation Engineer gave evidence that the slabs were improperly laid on the footpath. The engineering evidence was that the cause of the slabs subsiding was defective workmanship and as a result that a lip, though small was a tripping hazard and was dangerous.
The Defendants Engineers contended that the differential in height of the lip did not constitute a tripping hazard and that the footpath had been laid in accordance with British standards.
The Judge in deciding liability in favour of Ms Loughrey held that the Plaintiff had established as a matter of probability that the difference in height was caused by reason of the misfeasance or the active fault of the highway authority. The Judge held that the Plaintiff had a duty to keep a reasonable look out but the Judge found that the differential between the slabs was small and as a result it would not have been apparent to a Pedestrian that there was any danger caused by the differential. The Judge found that the differential of between 5mm and 6mm was a tripping hazard to the Plaintiff and was a sort of hidden danger or trap which entitled the Plaintiff to succeed without any contributory negligence against her.
The Plaintiff sustained a radial styloid fracture and a chip fracture of her right wrist. The Plaintiff also sustained injuries to her right shoulder. She remained considerably disabled due to poor hand function and to some extent by shoulder limitation. The Judge referred to the PIAB Book of Quantum and awarded general damages to date in the sum of €75,000 and for pain and suffering into the future, the sum of €50,000. The Judge also awarded the sum of €135,000 for past and future loss of earnings making a total award of €260,000.