Pensioner who fractured arm in fall has award of damages increased to more than €56k

A pensioner who fractured her arm after she tripped on a path while walking in a Co Tipperary town has had her award of damages increased to more than €56,000 by the High Court.

Noreen Meehan (aged 71), Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon said, suffered a traumatic injury but she also suffered a loss of dignity during a seven-week period during which her daily life had to be put on hold and her daughter looked after her.

Mrs Meehan the judge said could not drive or lift and hold her infant granddaughter and she suffered “a considerable loss of the amenities of life for a significant period of time.”

The judge ruled the appropriate award for pain and suffering to date was €55,000 in general damages as well as special damages in the region of €1,350 bringing the total award to €56,350.

The case came before the court by way of an appeal of a Circuit Court decision in May 2018 in which Mrs Meehan was awarded a total of €36,350 as a result of the accident on a footpath at Cahir Road, Clonmel on August 6, 2015.

Mrs Meehan, a retired nurse from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, had sued Tipperary County Council.

The appeal centred on whether the lip on the footpath over which Mrs Meehan tripped was caused due to damage by tree root growth or whether it was the result of subsidence due to poor foundations.

Mrs Meehan’s side argued the road was built using inadequate foundation which led to subsidence. The County Council denied the claims and contended the raised lip was caused by the roots of a maple tree.

Mrs Meehan told the court she was out for a walk when she tripped due to a lip on the footpath between two slabs of concrete and she landed heavily on her right side fracturing her upper arm.

Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon found there were a number of compelling reasons which lead to the conclusion that the lip in the footpath was due to subsidence and not to tree root. She said she accepted evidence to the court that the roots of maple trees grow downwards and the maple trees were two metres from the path.

The judge said the accident was reasonably foreseeable and she found the evidence of Mrs Meehan both “credible and cogent”.

She said the court accepted that on the balance of probabilities the raised lip in the footpath was caused by one slab of concrete in the footpath dropping down due to subsidence so that the concrete slabs were at different levels.

Upholding the Circuit Court decision on liability, Ms Justice O’Hanlon said she was satisfied on the balance of probabilities the tripping hazard was reasonably foreseeable and was caused by subsidence due to a failure on the part of the Council to properly construct that portion of the footpath.