High Court awards man €66k for fall at work

A man who suffered injuries to his shoulder, hip and knee after he tripped at the entrance of where he worked has been awarded over €66,000 in damages by the High Court.

The award was made by Mr. Justice Denis McDonald in favor of Mr. Colie Conneely, who the judge said suffered “a very nasty injury” following a fall that occurred at the entrance of the Thermo King factory in Galway on 17, 2014, when he was returning from lunch.

Mr. Conneely claimed he tripped after his foot struck a lip between the top of a paving slab and the top of an adjoining concrete channel next to the entrance to the factory building. He had worked at the factory for more than 30 years.

Arising out of his injuries Mr. Conneely of Ros Great, Millers Lane, Rahoon, Galway, had sued his employer Thermo King Ireland Ltd, with an address at Monivea Road, Mervue, Galway.

Mr. Conneely claimed his employers, which make refrigeration units for trucks were negligent on grounds including that it had failed to ensure the entrance floor was not uneven.

He also alleged the company failed to provide him with a safe place of work, failed to carry out a risk assessment, and failed to have any system in place to ensure the premises were kept free from tripping hazards.

Mr. Conneely also claimed there had been a failure to warn him of the presence of a tripping hazard.

He claimed that as a result of the accident he was out of work for 17 weeks and required surgery. He was unable to continue to play darts, and his other hobby of gardening was also made difficult.

The claims were fully denied by the company which in its defense claimed that Mr. Conneely, who did not report the accident until the following day, had contributed to his own injuries.

In his judgment, Mr. Justice McDonald said there was no dispute between the parties that there was a lip caused by a difference in height between the top of the drainage channel and the paving slab.

The real difference between the sides the judge said was the height of the lip. The company claimed it was some 3mm, however, the plaintiff had claimed it was 12.5mm.

In his judgment, the Judge said after considering the engineering evidence there was a 10mm differential at some point along the lip, which he added caused Mr. Conneely to trip.

The Judge said he was satisfied that the company was 100% liable for Mr. Conneely’s injuries, and there was no contributory negligence on his part.

If proper maintenance had been carried out on the place where Mr. Conneely fell, the judge said that he had no doubt that anyone inspecting the area would have seen the existence of a lip.

After considering the evidence before the court the Judge said Mr. Conneely was “a very frank and honest witness who did not gild the lily or prevaricate in his answers under direct or cross-examination.” and had downplayed the impact of what was “a nasty injury”.

The Judge, who noted that there were no witnesses who saw Mr. Conneely fall, said it was understandable in the circumstances why the plaintiff did not report the fall till the following day.

In the circumstances, the Judge said Mr. Conneely was entitled to €66,300 damages.

@Irish Examiner

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