A woman who suffered a severe ankle injury after she slipped on an icy section of path when she went out to the shops in bad weather has been awarded €175,000 by the High Court.
However, mother-of-two Catia Haider will only get €117,000 after she was found one-third responsible for her accident in January 2010 when the country was in the grip of extreme weather conditions with heavy snowfalls and ice.
Mr Justice Michael Hanna said he accepted the path was cleared with a mini digger bucket but the walkway should have been gritted immediately, which was not done. The judge noted that gritting subsequently took place on that section of the path as Ms Haider lay on the ground.
Beautician Ms Haider from Old Burrin, Carlow town, who fell as she walked to the shops to get essential supplies on January 9th, 2010, had sued Carlow County Council.
The court had 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 some other people and, when she stepped back on the path, she fell.
She claimed there was an alleged failure to provide any adequate grit on the path and there was an alleged failure to complete the clearance of snow and ice on the path.
The claims were denied and it was contended that there was contributory negligence on Ms Haider’s part.
Mr Justice Hanna 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 which the judge said “was in the grip of appalling weather conditions.”
There was no doubt, Mr Justice Hanna said, that emergency services and local authorities were stretched to the limit.
The judge said the people charged with gritting of the path were the county council employees and once the path was cleared there was an immediate obligation to render it safe.
Ms Haider, he said, was fully entitled to walk to the shopping centre which was 10 minutes from her home and he said she had to be especially careful because of the weather conditions.
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 and observed the mini digger, but she simply carried on.
The judge granted a stay in the event of an appeal.