In a recent personal injury case before the High Court a Dunnes Stores worker who sued the company after injuring her knee at work was awarded €94,000.00 by Justice Barrett in the High Court. At the finalisation of the personal injuries action against Dunnes Stores the judge ruled that the presence of cables under the checkouts at Dunnes Stores Newbridge branch was a hazard for any employee working at them. Ms. Moloney who took the claim against Dunnes Stores had previously told the company about the issue of cables hanging under the checkout counters. The issue had also been raised by staff previously at health and safety meetings before her accident in 2012. The incident took place in May of 2012 and was finalised in February of 2017. Ms. Moloney claimed in Court that there was a failure to ensure that cables were properly secured and she alleged that as a result of this she tripped over the cables which had been allowed to become loose. After tripping she banged her knee and claimed that she suffered a personal injury which necessitated her attendance at her GP with pain in her knee and later she had to have a surgical procedure on her knee as a result of the personal injury suffered. Dunnes Stores denied that they were responsible for the personal injury suffered by the Claimant and argued in Court that she had been the author of her own misfortune by not keeping a proper lookout in going about her tasks and by not bringing the issue of the cables to the attention of management.
After initially reserving judgment to consider the legal issues surrounding the case the Judge ruled that the inattention on part of the claimant was not a factor and that she should not be made partly responsible for the negligence that resulted in the personal injury to her knee. The Judge went on to say that he was satisfied that the accident happened as it was described by her and he found her to be truthful witness. The Judge accepted that she suffered a soft tissue injury to her knee which was however superimposed on an earlier condition. In other words the Claimant had been suffering from some sort of injury previous to the accident which was worsened by the personal injury suffered while at work.
As a result of the injuries the Claimant was certified unfit to work until May of 2015 and she had made a claim for loss of earnings in relation to that time also.
In awarding the Claimant personal injuries compensation the Judge granted total damages of €94,000.00. It is however interesting to note the breakdown of this €94,000.00:
- €35,000.00 was awarded to date for general damages. (This relates to the pain and suffering for the injury suffered to date).
- €15,000.00 was awarded for general damages into the future.
- Special damages of €2,000.00, was awarded which would include medical bills and costs relating to doctor’s appointments.
- €42,000.00 was awarded for loss of earnings. This was in relation to the period of time that the Claimant was unable to return to work.
This case shows that while the award was relatively substantial in respect of the knee injury the most significant part of the Claimants action against her employer was in relation to the loss of earnings. Once the Court had taken the view that the Claimant was being truthful and honest in her account of what had happened it followed that the Judge would accept the claim for loss of earnings as indicated above.
If you have any queries in respect of any issues arising out of the personal injuries action described above in relation to personal injuries generally please contact our personal injuries team in the Cork office on 021 427 2882 or in the Dublin office on 01 640 1849