Tuesday 20 March 2018

Woman 'fractured her wrist' when her mother’s wheelchair went out of control at Powerscourt Estate

The gardens at Powerscourt Estate in Co Wicklow
The gardens at Powerscourt Estate in Co Wicklow

Tim Healy

A woman who brought her 83-year-old mother on a day out to Powerscourt Gardens in Wicklow claimed says she fractured her wrist when her mother’s wheelchair went out of control on a steep slope.

Jean Chambers has sued in the High Court for damages claiming she fell as she tried to stop the wheelchair but it gathered speed and went out of control.

“At that stage I was running so fast. I was trying to slow the wheelchair down and to steer it towards the grass embankment. I can’t remember after that,” she told Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

She thinks somebody ran after the wheelchair as her mother was not injured, the court heard.

Her mother can’t remember “how she was saved”.

The court was told Ms Chambers’ mother was using a wheelchair provided at the gardens and she (mother) has separately brought a legal action in relation to the alleged incident.

Jean Chambers (48), Cedarwood Road, Glasnevin, Dublin, has sued Powerscourt Estates Ltd, as a result of her fall on the visit the

gardens on September 13, 2014.

It is claimed that while there was a disabled route marked out on the map provided, there should have been signs in the gardens and at the

turn which Ms Chambers took with the wheelchair near the pet cemetery.

Powerscourt Estates has denied the claim.

It contends Ms Chambers failed to follow instructions she was given when she was given a map of the gardens. The court heard over 200,000people visit the gardens each year.

Opening the case, Hugh O'Keeffe SC for Ms Chambers, said that she and her mother were unaware when they turned left, they went off the blue disabled route.

Ms Chambers had been left with a seven centimetre scar on her wrist and had suffered a loss of self-confidence as a result of the accident, he said.

Cross examined by Declan Buckley SC, for Powerscourt, Ms Chambers said she had did not realise when she turned left with the wheelchair it was such a steep slope. She said if it had been clearly marked she would not have taken that route.

“I would have paid attention to a sign.

"At the time it did not appear such a dangerous slope to me,” she said.

Counsel put it to Ms Chambers that her "default mechanism" was to go to a solicitor and this was her fifth case where she had sued for damages over alleged injuries.

Ms Chambers agreed she had  been in a car accident previously and had also sued in relation to alleged injuries at work and alleged injury when in a supermarket.

Sarah Slazenger, general manager of Powerscourt ,told the court there had not been any feedback from any visitors that there was a difficulty accessing the disabled route.

She said it seemed extraordinary that somebody would push a wheelchair down the slope.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr reserved his decision.

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