A bus driver who slipped on black ice at the top of a staircase in a common area of his apartment block has been awarded more than €60,000 by the High Court against the apartment managers.
Shakur Ahmed (53), Castlegrange Square, Clondalkin, Dublin, fractured his elbow when he fell down an entire flight of stairs as he was leaving for work at 5.15am on November 21st , 2016.
He sued Castlegrange Management Co Ltd and Castlegrange Square Management Co Ltd, with registered offices at Dunboyne Business Park, Co Meath. Both defendants were found to be jointly and severally liable.
He claimed the defendants were negligent in the maintenance, upkeep and repair of the landing and stairs where the accident occurred. It was alleged there was a failure to warn of the dangers of the tiled floor by way of signs, guards or otherwise.
Mr Ahmed said rain had been coming in on a light above his apartment door and it was cold and dark as he left home that morning.
The light in the landing had fused a week before the incident, he said. When he slipped and fell down the entire flight of stairs there was no “nosing”, which provides grip, on the first three steps on the stairs, he said.
The claims were denied. The defendants argued the reason for the accident was that the conditions were wet, icy and slippery. If there had been black ice as claimed the fixing of the light would have had no effect on the incident as black ice would be clear and invisible regardless of the lighting, it was argued.
The defendants also relied on the evidence of engineers that the nosing would not have had much effect in avoiding the accident as the ice would likely have risen above the level of nosing.
Mr Ahmed, who bought the apartment in the 98-unit complex in 2008 for himself, his wife and children, said that, had the light been working, he might have seen something on the surface.
He said it was also up to the management company to grit the landing and that he was paying the service charge for that.
He drove to work in Ringsend bus depot that morning and did not know there was blood pouring from him onto the floor. He was brought by ambulance to hospital, and the next day he was found to have a puncture wound over his left elbow and x-rays showed a displaced comminuted fracture of the left elbow. He spent the following two months at home.
Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon found as a fact that the incident involved black ice, as Mr Ahmed had claimed.
Therefore, any repair to the lighting would not have averted the accident, she said.
The area in question was a public pathway that fell within the control of the defendants and the effect of gritting would have averted this accident, she said.
She rejected the argument that there would have been no beneficial effect to this surface if it had been gritted.
The issues concerning water dripping through the light fixture were a major contributor to the causing of ice to form on the surface given the weather conditions at the time, she said.
If nosings on the steps had been in place and in proper condition, they would have assisted in breaking his fall, she also said.
The court found the appropriate award in consideration of the seriousness of the injury sustained, was €60,201, including some €3,700 in special damage.