The High Court has awarded €117,000 to a woman who suffered a severe ankle injury when she slipped on an icy path.
The total value of the award was €175,000 but this was reduced as the court found that Catia Haider was one-third responsible for her accident during a very cold spell in January 2010.
Mr Justice Michael Hanna said he accepted that the path was cleared with a min-digger bucket. However, he said the walkway should have been gritted immediately and this was not done. The judge noted that gritting subsequently took place on the section of path where the incident occurred.
Ms Haider, a beautician from Old Burrin, Carlow town, had sued Carlow County Council over the incident on January 9th, 2010.
The court heard she was walking along the path at Kennedy Avenue near the entrance to the shopping centre in Carlow town when she stepped out of the way of other people and fell. She claimed there was an alleged failure to provide any adequate grit on the path and there was an alleged failure to complete snow and ice clearance on the path.
The claims were denied and it was contended that there was contributory negligence on Ms Haider’s part.
The judge said Ms Haider suffered immense trauma and an ankle fracture which has lifelong implications. The judge said it was one of the most inclement periods of weather in living memory and it was “all hands to the pump” for every local authority in the country.
There was no doubt, he said, that emergency services and local authorities were stretched to the limit. The judge said county council employees were charged with gritting the path and there was an immediate obligation to render it safe once it was cleared of snow.
Ms Haider was fully entitled to walk to the shopping centre, 10 minutes from her home, and had to be especially careful because of the weather conditions, he said. However, the judge ruled there was contributory negligence on the part of Ms Haider. He said she should have taken greater care walking on the pathway.
The judge granted a stay in the event of an appeal.