Woman’s €62,500 award over fall on Tramore Promenade overturned
Posted on 23rd July 2020 at 21:49
A €62,500 damages award to a woman who was injured when she fell on a speed bump while crossing a road has been overturned.
The Court of Appeal said Helen Power, from Tramore in Co Waterford, had admitted she was looking to see if there might be a free table at a nearby cafe when she fell on the Promenade in Tramore on July 15th, 2015.
Ms Power fractured her left hip in the fall but made a substantial, if not full, recovery, the court noted.
The High Court awarded her €62,500 in March of last year, with Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon ruling that the speed bumps constituted a trip hazard because of their positioning, shape and location beside a pedestrian crossing.
However, Mr Justice Donald Binchy, on behalf of the three-judge appeal court, on Thursday said the admission by Ms Power in her High Court evidence, that she was not looking where she was going, was most significant.
It was this, the fact she was looking for a free table, coupled with the fact that she chose to walk on the road in the first place, that caused the accident, he said
It was not caused by the failure of Waterford City and County Council to put in parking restrictions around the nearby pedestrian crossing or put the bumps further from the crossing, he said.
While such measures are recommended in certain road safety guidelines, they are aimed at encouraging pedestrians to use the crossing and discourage them from walking on speed bumps, he said.
Mr Justice Binchy also accepted the council expert’s evidence that, as long as the bumps were highlighted with bright lines, as they were in this case, they did not constitute a hazard to pedestrians.
In her evidence to the High Court, Ms Power said she wanted to get to the cafe with a student she was hosting in her home to get an ice cream. The area around the Promenade was very busy at the time and she parked her car about 50 yards from the cafe, which was almost adjacent to the pedestrian crossing
Ms Power said she considered the footpath was so busy with people that it was at full capacity and she felt she would have a better chance of getting a table if she did not go on the footpath, which her student had already done.
She thought the speed bump was one continuous bump but it was in fact two separate bumps with a gap between them. She also claimed her view was obscured by a car parked beside them. The council denied negligence.
Mr Justice Binchy said the High Court fell into error in concluding Ms Power did not have “good clear way” or her view was impaired by parked vehicles. That was “simply not borne out” by Ms Power’s own evidence, he said.
The trial judge also fell into error by concluding the pedestrian crossing had anything to do with the accident. Ms Power’s clear evidence was she was not walking on and had no intention of walking on the crossing.
He awarded costs of the appeal and of the High Court, subject to any submissions Ms Power’s lawyers may want to make later, to the council.
Share this post: