Bus driver who fell down stairs is awarded €553,000
A BUS driver who was unable to return to work after she fell on a stairwell in a bus depot yesterday got €553,000 in damages at the High Court.
Susan Conaty (52), of South Quay, Arklow, Co Wicklow, sued Dublin Bus arising out of the accident at Donnybrook depot on December 29, 2003, claiming the company failed to provide her with a safe place of work.
She tried unsuccessfully to return to work after the accident and had to take early retirement in 2006 because of her injuries.
The court heard that during a break at the depot, while walking up a stairs, she slipped and fell down eight to 10 steps before landing upside down. She developed sustained and severe personal injuries which were exacerbated by existing degenerative changes in her cervical vertebrae.
Dublin Bus denied that it had been negligent or in breach of contract. It argued the stairwell was suitable for workers to walk on and the surface was properly cleaned at all times. The company claimed Ms Conaty failed to exercise care or have sufficient regard for her own safety and as a result caused herself to slip and fall.
Mr Justice Iarhflaith O'Neill said he was impressed by Ms Conaty's truthfulness and described her as an accurate historian of the accident.
He found there had been some liquid on the landing because of the unsafe practice of allowing drinks to be carried from the canteen on to the steps and landing area over a notoriously slippy vinyl surface.
He found Dublin Bus had failed to discharge its duty to Ms Conaty to provide her with a safe place of employment.
While she had been speaking to her son on her mobile phone at the time of the accident, through an attachment to the phone in her handbag, he did not find this was contributory negligence. He felt that if he did, a significant part of life in Ireland would have to come to a halt.
A spokesperson for Dublin Bus would not comment yesterday.