Monday 16 September 2019

'People have to watch out for themselves' - judge dismisses woman's €60k claim against Dublin Bus

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Ray Managh

People have to watch out for themselves and exercise caution in everyday circumstances, a judge told a 67-year-old woman when dismissing her €60,000 damages claim against Dublin Bus.

Judge Sinead Ni Chulachain said it was accepted by all that Elvyra Gaizauskiene had undoubtedly suffered nasty injuries when she fell while exiting a bus where the driver was operating a wheelchair lift.

Judge Ni Chulachain said Ms Gaizauskiene had entered the bus with a friend to help her on with her luggage and intended leaving the bus again as it remained at the stop while retracting a wheelchair ramp.

She told Dublin Bus solicitor Gerard O’Herlihy there had been a language difficulty in that Ms Gaizauskiene spoke only Russian while a verbal warning in English warned of the movement of the ramp.  Movement of the ramp took only two seconds and was also accompanied by the sound of a one-second klaxon.

Gaizauskiene, a retired cleaner of St Mochtas Lawn, Coolmine Lodge, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, told the court through an interpreter that on 3rd July 2014 she and her friend entered the bus at Hartstown Road, Dublin. She was helping her friend on with luggage and intended leaving the bus again.

She said that as she was leaving the bus the disability ramp began to move and caused her to lose her footing and trip and fall from the bus to the ground, injuring her head and breaking her right arm.

Mr O’Herlihy, in a full defence to the action, claimed Ms Gaizauskiene had failed to watch where she was going and had not noticed that the ramp was in operation as she left the bus. She had attempted to leave the bus when the ramp was moving.

He told the court the unfortunate lady had failed to pay any attention to the warning noises and had failed to wait so as to allow a wheelchair-bound passenger to board in safety.  She had also failed to tell the bus driver that it was not her intention to travel.

Judge Ni Chulachain said she accepted that all of the witnesses involved in the case had been honest and that any discrepancies in evidence were understandable, given the language barrier.

She said Dublin Bus owed its passengers a duty of reasonable care and the bus itself needed to get people on and off and get going again.  She accepted that Ms Gaizauskiene had been in a hurry to get off the bus.

“There is a duty on people to watch out for themselves and exercise caution in everyday circumstances and, whether because she was rushing to get off or otherwise, Ms Gaizauskiene did not properly observe the ramp,” Judge Ni Chulachain said.

Awarding Dublin Bus its costs against Ms Gaizauskiene, the judge said the onus was on her to prove negligence and she had to dismiss her claim.

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