Judge throws out man’s €60,000 damages claim over slip on stairs

stairs

27 December 2021

A judge has thrown out a €60,000 damages claim by a human resources director who said he slipped and bounced down four or five steps on his backside, injuring his lower back.

Patrick Ward (50) of Knocksedan Drive, Swords, Co Dublin, had sued his former employer, Dublin Port Company, for €60,000 damages for personal injuries, a claim that was thrown out by Judge Cormac Quinn in the Circuit Civil Court.

Mr Ward told the court he had injured his back in December 2018 when he slipped on the top step of a flight of stairs after having used the bathroom on the third floor of Dublin Port’s office building on Alexandra Road, Dublin.

“I bounced down four or five steps on my backside,” he told Judge Quinn. He said he had experienced immediate pain, in his back, but had not thought there was any cause for concern at the time.

He said his lower back pain had not subsided and a week after the accident he had visited his GP. His movements had been restricted and he had trouble performing basic tasks such as putting on his socks.

His GP had recommended rest and had prescribed painkillers to be taken in association with a course of physiotherapy.

In January 2019, Mr Ward had been referred for an MRI scan which had taken place the following month. He subsequently received two courses of steroid injection treatment and a CT guided steroid injection into his spine, all of which had provided him with minimal relief.

He had been told his condition would continue to worsen without surgery which had been carried out in the Mater Hospital in February 2020. He said the surgery had been successful and he had seen significant improvement in his injuries since.

Mr Ward told barrister Adrianne Fields, counsel for Dublin Port, he had been involved in a number of other cases.

In 2010, he had been awarded €12,500 damages after suffering neck injuries in a road traffic incident. 

He had been involved in another incident in 2015 in which he suffered damage to the ligaments and tissue in his lower back. He had been awarded €18,415 for an incident involving a taxi in 2016 and in which he had suffered shoulder and neck injuries.

Asked by Ms Fields in cross-examination if he had heard of anybody else slipping on the stairs, Mr Ward said a colleague had told him she also had slipped on the same stairs and had informed him of this directly after his fall. 

Defence counsel asked the court for a direction dismissing Mr Ward’s claim on the basis he had failed to prove a case of negligence against her client.

Judge Quinn dismissed the action on the basis that the high point of Mr Ward’s case was that there may have been moisture trapped on the sole of his shoe which could possibly have caused him to slip and fall. 

There had been no evidence of water on the stairs and Mr Ward had not known what had actually caused him to slip and fall.

There was no order for costs made.

If you would like an assessment of a claim, you can use the online form available here without obligation or alternatively you can use the automatic claim calculator.

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