€16,500 for woman who walked into doors at workplace and smashed her front teeth

A woman who walked into doors and smashed her front teeth has been awarded more than €16,500 damages.

Information technology executive Roseanna McDonald received the award despite having been held partly responsible for an accident at her former workplace.

The case of Ms McDonald led Judge Dara Hayes in the Circuit Civil Court today issuing a warning to employers of the importance of indicating the presence of see-through plate glass doors with clear warnings.

Judge Hayes said Ms McDonald, of Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, had sustained significant dental injury when she walked into double plate glass doors at Brightwater Selection (Ireland) Ltd’s offices in Merrion Square, Dublin, where she worked in January 2017.

“In the immediate aftermath she was bleeding from her mouth and broke two teeth and fragments of each of them were found on the floor,” Judge Hayes said.

“She experienced significant shock and distress.”

He said she had sustained fractures to her four upper front teeth and nerve damage to two of them leading to them having turned black.

She had to have the four teeth crowned.

Barrister Sharbee Morrin, counsel for Ms McDonald, said she had been loading computer items into her car outside the Brightwater’s offices and had been walking in and out through one of the double glass doors which she had left open.

On her final journey the door had been somehow closed and she had walked into it.

Mr Morrin, who appeared with O’Hanrahan Solicitors, said the doors had previously contained plain frosted strips that had been removed prior to the accident in preparation for the installation of new frosted strips bearing the company’s logo.

Judge Hayes said there had been significant discussion as to whether two metre-long perpendicular door handles constituted sufficient warning that the doors were closed.

He said forensic engineer Donal Terry had stated that the only reasonable explanation for the accident was that Ms McDonald had not seen the closed door likely due to a moment of inattention.

Ms McDonald had told the court there may have been an interaction with one of her superiors just before she had walked into the doors.

“Clear plate glass doors create an obvious risk of people walking into them and I am satisfied in this case the handles that were present did not provide adequate warning,” Judge Hayes said.

“It is often not possible to eliminate risk but it is always possible to mitigate and guard against it,” he said.

“It is important for occupiers and employers to take steps to minimise risk not just for the novice or those unfamiliar with the premises or workplace but to guard and protect against familiarity breeding complacency.”

Judge Hayes said the risk could and should have been mitigated by better and more prominent markings on the doors but Ms McDonald had to bear some responsibility for the accident and he assessed her liability at 35pc.

The judge said she had undergone significant dental treatment, requiring four crowns and replacement of them after about 15 years hence.

He assessed general damages at €17,500 together with €4,220 for dental work to date and €3,960 for future dental treatment.

Taking Ms McDonald’s contributory negligence into account he awarded her a decree for €16,692 and legal costs.

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