Workplace Solicitor News
Posted: June 11th, 2017
The Circuit Civil Court has resolved a lower back car accident injury claim made by a 72-year-old woman who suffered a compression fracture of a vertebrae.
In November 2013, the plaintiff was one of seven family members – five adults and two children – travelling in a recently-purchased Toyota along the M1 from Dublin to Newry. Suddenly – at a speed of around 80Kmph – the sun roof blew off the Toyota, creating a noise described as “like a bomb going off in the car”.
The driver of the car applied the brakes immediately, causing all five adult occupants of the car to suffer whiplash-type injuries. Worst affected by the sudden braking action was the 72-year-old plaintiff, who suffered a compression fracture of a vertebrae in her lower back. The two children – who were strapped into child seats – escaped uninjured.
After receiving treatment for her injuries, the woman made a lower back car accident injury claim against the car supplier – Denis Mahony Limited – from whom the Toyota had been purchased just four months previously. It was alleged in the legal action the car was not fit for purpose, of merchantable quality nor free from defects at the time it had been purchased.
Denis Mahony Limited denied liability for the woman´s injury, and the case went to the Circuit Civil Court, where it heard recently by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. The judge was told by an independent motor assessor that corrosion surrounding the frame of the sun roof that would have been present on the vehicle at the time it was purchased by the family.
The assessor testified that the advanced state of the corrosion had led to the sun roof blowing off and the accident could have been avoided if there had been an adequate pre-sale inspection conducted by the car supplier. Following the assessor´s testimony, Denis Mahony Limited withdrew its defence against the lower back car injury claim, leaving Judge Groarke to assess the amount of compensation due.
He awarded the woman €25,000 compensation in settlement of her lower back car accident injury claim. A second family member, whose claim was being considered at the same hearing, was awarded €12,500. Three other claims – relating to the three other family members injured in the same accident, will now likely be settled without the need for a court hearing.
Posted: January 31st, 2017
A play school in Dublin has been ordered to pay a higher settlement of compensation to a young girl who fell and badly injured her leg whilst in their care.
The accident occurred in April 2015 at the Larkin Early Education Centre in Ballybough, Dublin, climbed on top of a wardrobe. However, the little girl soon fell to the floor and was subsequently rushed to hospital. An x-ray revealed that she had fractured her left tibia and she underwent emergency surgery to reset the broken bone.
After she was discharged from hospital, the young girl had to wear a full leg cast and continued to wear a protective boot for weeks after the cast was removed. Two years on and the little girl has not fully recovered, complaining to her mother of pains in her leg where the fracture occurred. Her mother, acting on her behalf, made a claim for personal injury compensation against the Larkin Early Education Centre.
The Injuries Board Ireland first assessed the claim, after which an offer of compensation of €31,000 was made by the play centre. However, the mother’s legal counsel did not believe that this was a fair settlement and advised that she refuse the offer. The mother acted on this advice, and as no other offer of compensation was made, the case proceeded to the Circuit Civil Court for a hearing.
The hearing, overseen by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, occurred earlier this week in Dublin. The judge was detailed the circumstances of the accident and how the injury has affected the little girl. Judge Groarke agreed that the settlement offered by the play school was not adequate for the nature of the injury sustained.
The Book of Quantum, which has recently been revised, says that the minimum compensation to be awarded for a fracture with a displaced bone is €40,500. Additionally, injuries to the tibia are more serious than those for the fibula, and as the girl still suffers from the injury two years later, the compensation should be higher than the minimum.
Posted: December 12th, 2016
The Circuit Civil Court has heard a claim for a restaurant employee slip and fall accident made by a woman who worked at Dublin´s Heuston Station.
In May 2013, the twenty-five year old woman was working at the open air restaurant outside Heuston Station in Dublin, when she slipped on pigeon droppings and fell sideways on her knees and back, suffering soft tissue injuries to her ankle, knees and lower back.
The woman made a claim for a restaurant employee slip and fall accident against her employer – Heuston Refreshment Rooms – and Córas Iompair Éireann (CIE) for failing to deal with a serious pigeon problem that has affected travellers and staff at the Dublin station.
Both defendants denied their liability and refused their consent for the Injuries Board to assess the claim for a restaurant employee slip and fall accident. The Injuries Board subsequently issued the woman with an authorisation to pursue her claim through the courts system.
The hearing to determine liability was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin. At the hearing Judge Groarke heard that the plaintiff had often had to shoo pigeons away from the open air tables and had reported the problem to her employer.
Representatives of the Heuston Refreshment Rooms told the judge that the restaurant had complained to CIE, but the measures that CIE had implemented to resolved the problem – including introducing a hawk to which the pigeons had become acquainted – had proved to be ineffective.
Judge Groarke found in the plaintiff´s favour and awarded her €22,500 compensation in settlement of her claim for a restaurant employee slip and fall accident. The judge ruled that both defendants were aware the pigeons were a problem and a potential cause of injury; and, although granting judgement against both defendants, he would make an order in favour of the restaurant against CIE.
Posted: October 10th, 2016
A child’s Injuries Board assessment for a fall from a window compensation has been approved by a judge in Dublin Circuit Court.
Róisín Byrne was just fifteen months old when, in August 2012, she fell from the large sash window of the Georgian building in which she was living with her parents. The little girl fell three metres before landing on a fire escape, sustaining injuries that included lacerations to her forehead, broken ribs and a punctured lung. Róisín, now five years old, has recovered from her injuries though still bears a scar on her head from the fall.
The safety of the window had already been called into question by Ronan Byrne and Chloe Murphy, Róisín’s parents. As the window opens just half a metre from the ground, they were concerned that it would pose a danger to their young child. The subsequently requested that the caretaker add an extra security mechanism to prevent an accident. The request was never heeded, and an accident did indeed occur.
Chloe, acting on her daughter’s behalf, consulted a personal injuries solicitor and proceeded to file for assessment with the Injuries Board Ireland. Enda Woods, the owner of the Georgian property, situated in Blackrock, consented to the assessment. The Injuries Board calculated a settlement of compensation worth €46,000 for Róisín’s injuries.
Though there was mutual consent between the parties concerning the value of the settlement, as the claim was made on behalf of a child, the sum had to be approved by a judge before it could be awarded. The sum was in excess of €15,000, and as such it was assessed by Mr Justice Raymond Graorke in the Circuit Court.
At the approval hearing, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard the circumstances of Róisín’s accident and the extent of her injuries. He proceeded to approve the settlement, which will be paid into court funds until Róisín’s eighteenth birthday.
Posted: September 26th, 2016
In the coming weeks, a revised Book of Quantum is to be introduced to Irish in an effort to update compensation settlements awarded to injured parties.
First published in 2004, the book of Quantum is a reference publication used by solicitors, judges and insurance companies to determine the amount of compensation the victim of an accident is entitled to. The book accounts for a range of of physical injuries and provided estimates of settlements based upon severity and permanence of the injury.
However, over the past few years, an increasing number of professionals have come out to criticise the Book of Quantum, claiming that it is outdated and no longer compensates fairly. Judges and solicitors have increasingly ignored the guidelines provided, or instead will take the highest value given. This leads to various inconsistencies in the settling of compensation claims.
As a result, Ireland’s senior judges engaged in discussions with the Courts Services and the Injuries Board concerning a revision of the Book. A team analysed around 52,000 personal injury claims made in Ireland between 2013 and 2014, using these data to create a new reference text. This new Book of Quantum will be published in the next few weeks, and many hope that it will restore consistency to the system.
Revisions include a recalculation of the estimates provided to account for inflation and an increase in the number of subcategories for both severity and permanence. This allows those settling a claim to award more appropriate figures of compensation depending upon the injury.
The Book of Quantum only accounts for physical injuries inflicted upon to the injured party. He or she may also be able to claim for emotional trauma or financial losses: as such, it is best to consult a solicitor before embarking on a claim for personal injuries compensation.
Posted: August 24th, 2016
A five-figure settlement of compensation has been paid to a bicycle courier who was injured in a road accident with a taxi.
The accident occurred in March 2015, when Rotimi Omotayo was cycling on the Custom House Quay. However, taxi driver Kenneth Griffin pulled out from one of the lanes on the carriageway and snowed Rotimi from his bicycle.
Luckily, Rotimi was not seriously injured in the accident. Yet when he made a claim to the Injuries Board, his claim was dismissed on the grounds that he was believed to have contributed to his injury. The Injuries Board proceeded to issue the courier with authorisation to pursue his claim through the courts, and the case went to the High Court of Dublin. It was overseen by Mr Justice Bernard Barton.
During the hearing, Judge Barton heard evidence from witnesses for both Rotimi and Mr Griffin. It needed to be determined whether Rotimi had breached the Road Traffic Regulations by cycling in a hatched area.
However, upon hearing that Rotimi needed to deliver to the river side of the Quay, and as such was entitled to cycle in the outside lane before turning, Judge Barton dismissed allegations of contributory negligence and found in his favour.
When assessing damages, Judge Barton commented that he was not going to consult the Book of Quantum as he deemed it “hopelessly out of date and of little assistance”.
Instead, Judge Barton chose to apply Tort Law and awarded Rotimi €30,000 in general damages. Concerning the claim for special damages, the judge determined that there no evidence to show that Rotimi suffered a lack of earnings. He did, however, allow for compensation of Rotimi’s legal costs.
Posted: May 27th, 2016
The Circuit Civil Court has awarded a kitchen assistant a settlement of compensation for injuries she sustained after slipping on wet leaves at her workplace.
The accident occurred at the Baltinglass Hospital on the 19th November 2012 when Ann Groves, a fifty-eight year-old kitchen assistant, was walking towards the rear entrance of her workplace. However, as she was walking, Anne slipped on a patch of wet leaves, which left her with injuries to her ankle. The swelling would not disappear when an ice pack was applied, and upon visiting her GP, Ann was diagnosed with soft tissue damage to her ankle.
However, despite the joint support provided to her by her doctor, Ann continued to experience pain. Her sleeping was interrupted and she found that she could neither stand nor walk for prolonged periods. Ann then went of courses of physiotherapy and acupuncture to try and lessen the pain, and in 2014 even had her spinal cord surgically stimulated. Though this did help alleviate the pain, it never went away.
Ann sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for work injury compensation against the Health Service Executives, her employers. However, the HSE denied that they were liable for her injuries, claiming that there was an established cleaning system for the hospital grounds. Additionally, they argued that Ann’s lack of caution contributed to her own injury.
As liability was contested between the parties, Ann was issued with authorisation by the Injuries Board to pursue her claim in court. The case was heard in the Circuit Civil Court earlier this month by Judge Barry Hickson.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Hickson ruled in Ann’s favour. He dismissed the HSE’s allegations that she had been negligent after hearing a testimony from a maintenance engineer who stated that the maintenance team only started work after the kitchen staff, and as such would not have cleared the wet leaves. Ann was then awarded €25,879 in compensation for her work accident.
Posted: May 9th, 2016
The Dublin Criminal Court has fined a company €200,000 for breaches in health and safety laws that resulted in the death of an employee.
The accident happened on the 28th November 2015 when a supervisor at VF Coldstores Ltd, Robert Ceremuga, was working in a warehouse owned by the company. Robert was killed when a scaffold that was supporting over thirty six tonnes of food products collapsed because of a collision involving a forklift. However, an investigation discovered that the employee who was driving the forklift had been working with the company for just three weeks and lacked the appropriate license to drive the vehicle.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) prosecuted VF Coldstores Ltd for serious and fatal breaches of health and safety laws. Earlier this year, a representative for the company plead guilty to the charges brought against them. At the hearing in the Circuit Criminal Court, Dublin, Maria – Robert’s widow – gave a victim impact statement. After this, Judge Melanie Greally adjourned such that she could take a “scientific approach” to calculating the fine.
Last week, the hearing recommenced. Judge Greally issued a €200,000 fine to VF Coldstores Ltd for their criminal actions. Brian Higgisson, the Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA, commented that “It is important that employers adequately manage and conduct work activities, in particular carrying out risk assessments before any major works, such as alterations to racking. These assessments should ensure that everyone has the necessary training, knowledge and experience to complete the work in a safe manner.”
Posted: April 12th, 2016
Dublin’s High Court have awarded a waitress in a hotel a compensation settlement of €500,000 after deeming that the crockery she was asked to use was unfit for purpose.
Sophie Caillaud – aged forty-two – was working at the Lough Rynn Hotel in Mohill, Co. Leitrim when the accident occurred. As she was filling up a glass jug, it shattered in her hand, causing a deep cut to her thumb.
Shortly after the accident surgery was performed on the digit to try and help repair any soft-tissue damage sustained. However, Sophie has still not been able to regain full strength in her thumb and as such now experiences difficulty engaging in daily tasks.
During her recovery, Sophie sought legal counsel before proceeding to make a claim for compensation against the Lough Rynn Hotel, her employers. She additionally made a claim for compensation against the Utopia Tableware Ltd and Bunzl Outsourcing Ltd, the two companies that supplied and manufactured the glass jug that caused Sophie’s injury.
However, the defendants argued that Sophie was negligent in her actions, and that she caused her own injuries. They also disputed the amount of compensation being sought, claiming that it was too high for the injuries that she sustained.
As the case was not resolved through negotiations or intervention from the Injruies Board, it proceeded t the High Court in Dublin. There, it was overseen by Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who was told that other staff members at the hotel had previously been injured in similar incidents involving the same glass jug.
Testimony was given from an expert witness, who explained that the joint between the handle and the jug was weakened by repeated hot-and-cold cycles in the dishwasher. As such, he confirmed that the jugs were not fit for purpose.
After Sophie gave evidence at the hearing, judge cross dismissed the allegations made that she had either acted negligently or exaggerated her injuries. Before awarding her a €500,000 compensation settlement, he commented that he had found Sophie to be “entirely genuine”.
Posted: March 18th, 2016
A judge in the High Court of Dublin have ruled that the retailer were negligent in a claim made after an employee was injured by falling down a flight of stairs.
Jean O’Reilly, the Wexford employee who filed that claim, was working at the checkouts in her local branch of the retailer in Redmond Square when the accident occurred. On the 9th December 2011, as she was reading notices for staff members, she fell down a flight of stairs that connected the locker room and the ground floor.
An ambulance brought Jean from the shop to the hospital, where she received treatment for soft tissue damage to her head and neck. Jean then wore a brace around her neck for six weeks after the accident, and attended a course of physiotherapy to help her wounds heal. During this period Jean was unable to return to work.
Jean sought legal counsel for her workplace accident, and subsequently made a claim for compensation against her employer, Dunnes Stores. In the claim, she said that the noticeboard for staff was placed too close to the top of the stairs, and as such posed a danger. Additionally, she alleges that had there been a handrail on either side of the stairs her accident could have been prevented.
However, Dunnes Stores disputed the claim for compensation, and when asked by the Injuries Board for consent to carry out an assessment, they denied. Jean was then given permission to follow her claim for workplace compensation through the courts, where it was heard earlier this month by Mr Justice Raymond Fullam.
After hearing all the evidence, Judge Fullam determined that Dunnes Stores was guilty of two counts of negligence. The first concerned the dangerous placement of the noticeboard at the top of the stairs, and the second was because of the lack of handrails on the stairs where Jean fell. As such, he found in Jean’s favour.
The judge awarded Jean a €81,500 settlement of compensation for her work accident claim. This consisted of a €65,000 settlement for the pain and loss of amenity she suffered because of the accident, and a €16,500 special damages compensation settlement for the loss of income after her accident.