A 62-YEAR-OLD seamstress has been awarded €260,000 after she injured her wrists when she tripped on an uneven footpath near a town hall.
Olive Loughrey, Station Road, Shankill, Dublin, sued Dun Laoghaire Co Council over the fall outside the council's town hall in Dun Laoghaire on July 9, 2002. Ms Loughrey, who was described by a High Court judge as an honest and decent lady, was awarded €125,000 for general damages plus €135,000 for past and future loss of earnings after the court heard she had been unable to return to work since the accident.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross adjourned an application for a stay on the award pending an appeal to allow lawyers for the council take instructions in relation to the judge's view that some money should be paid out immediately to Ms Loughrey as it could take up to four years for the appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court.
The judge accepted the council had fought the case as a matter of principle and that if they were successful in the appeal court it would have implications for every "trip and fall" case in the country.
In her action, Ms Loughrey, a grandmother of one, claimed she fell because of a defectively laid pavement slab.
When she tripped, she fell on her outstretched hands.
She was helped up and went to work but the pain in her hands from the fall got worse and, later that day, had to attend A & E where X-rays revealed fractures to wrists.
Her left forearm was placed in a cast and a brace was put on her right wrist.
She went on to develop symptoms which have left her with stiffness of her hand and wrist and she remains "considerably disabled" due to poor hand function and limitations to her shoulder movement,
Mr Justice Cross said in his judgment. The judge accepted she in no way exagerated her symtoms and she is substantially debilitated as a result of the accident.
The judge found that as a matter of probability the cause of the deterioration of the footpath slab she fell over was either poor design or faulty construction. Ms Loughrey was in no way to blame for the accident, he said.