€105,000 award for cleaner who suffered serious injury

A 79-year old woman, who five years ago suffered a severe fracture to her shoulder after she fell on a wet stairs, was recently awarded €105,000 by a High Court judge.

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy heard that the woman, who was 74 when she suffered the accident, earned €25 (an hourly rate of just over €8 per hour) for working three hours one day a week as a cleaner at the Blackrock Market in Dublin.

The injured woman told the court she slipped and fell as she was coming down the stairs, which was exposed to the elements and was wet. In her claim it was alleged there was a failure to warn stair users of the dangerous condition of the wooden stairs and that a suitable handrail should have been installed.

Counsel for the injured woman told the court it was “their case” that the handrail that was in place was “totally unsuitable”. He said the woman slipped and could not stop. She fell heavily on her left shoulder and fractured her arm.

Her husband had to come and collect her and bring her to hospital. She had to have surgery and a metal plate and pin were inserted in her arm. She was left with limited movement and has not worked since the accident.

Awarding the injured woman €105,000 damages (while there is no breakdown of the composition of the award, it is reasonable – given the wages she was paid and her age – to assume the damages were largely for the injury suffered), Ms Justice Murphy said she was satisfied the woman fell as a result of “an inappropriate stair arrangement”. The woman had the judge said, suffered a serious injury which had a devasting effect on her life.

The Book of Quantum provides for awards of up to €83,700 for fractures which result in serious and permanent conditions. The English and Welsh Judicial College’s Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases provides for awards of up to £58,300 (about €68,600) for such injuries. (McKenna v Roche: High Court, November 2019)

Source: Health and Safety Review