The Supreme Court has awarded a woman €58,741 after falling off a sidewalk.
Eraldine Keane claimed the footpath was designed and built in an unorthodox manner.
Ms Keane, a civil servant from Castlerea, Co Roscommon, is suing Donegal Co Council after breaking her elbow in the accident on 27 July 2018 while visiting her sister in Dungloe, Co Donegal.
Ms. Judge Marguerite Bolger awarded her €117,482, but finding that Ms. Keane was 50 percent liable for improper scouting, she was entitled to €58,741.
The court heard that she had just emerged from a gift shop and, after crossing the main street, stepped onto a raised curb that she believed was flush with the pavement.
However, unknown to her, a double step came down from the raised curb and she fell. She suffered a serious injury to her right knee, the court heard.
She alleged that the council was negligent and in breach of statutory duty in the design, construction, design, maintenance, upkeep, warnings and/or inspection and/or provision of the footpath.
She also alleged that the defendant designed and built a highly unorthodox arrangement between the roadway, curb and sidewalk.
This created a foreseeable danger for pedestrians. She claimed the council created an unusual feature and failed to provide an adequate warning or notification of its existence. It has therefore effectively concealed its existence, it has been claimed.
The council rejected all allegations. It has been claimed that she was responsible for not keeping a proper lookout, and that the raised curb followed by two steps was readily apparent to anyone with a proper lookout.
The council’s engineering expert said the two-tier layout is a good road design to both prevent flooding when it rains and prevent motorists from climbing the pavement.
Ms Keane’s expert said it was an unusual and unsafe design, but it could have been mitigated by installing a handrail, erecting barriers or providing warning signs.
Ms Judge Marguerite Bolger was pleased that when the two-tier agreement was introduced in 1995, the council did so without including anything to alert pedestrians to its existence. The Council did this to create danger and was therefore liable.
However, she said Ms Keane had failed to keep a more careful lookout. She therefore estimated liability for the accident at 50/50 between the plaintiff and the defendant.
Ms Keane was taken to hospital by ambulance after the accident and underwent immediate surgery for an elbow fracture.
As a result, she suffered severe pain and limitations in her daily activities for many months and was unable to return to work or her own home.
She eventually returned to work and home on a part-time basis about four months after the accident. She returned to full-time employment a few months later and was supported with adaptive equipment by her employer.
The judge said she sustained a serious injury to her right elbow, leaving her with permanent disability and scarring
Taking into account her contributory negligence of 50 percent, she would be entitled to compensation of 58,741 euros, she said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/woman-awarded-58000-after-fall-on-unorthodox-design-footpath-41843337.html Woman awarded €58,000 after falling on “unorthodox” footpath