Posted: February 17th, 2017
A case of a man suffering from a severe back injury due to a slip and fall accident at work has resulted in liability being split between the man and his employer.
In February 2010, a former employee at the Templemore sewerage plant in County Tipperary was walking along a path at work when he fell, causing injury to his head and back. He sought legal counsel, and made a claim against Templemore Town Council for his slip and fall injury at work. In the claim, he alleged that the fall was due to sewerage overflowing from the flumes surrounding the inlet channels at the now decommissioned plant.
As a result of his injury, the employee suffered frequent headaches and the back injury caused him a great deal of discomfort. The severity of the injury was such that he was prevented from adequately performing his role at the plant. He was rendered unable return to work. He sought legal counsel, and applied to the Injuries Board for an assessment of compensation for a slip and fall injury at work. However, the defendants-the party responsible for the sewerage plant, Templemore Town Council-denied consent to assess the claim.
The Injuries Board then issued the former employee of the plant with authorisation to pursue his claim in court, as it was unable to be settled in an out-of-court agreement. This authorisation was granted. The case was scheduled to be heard at the High Court by Mr Justice Raymond Fullam. The purpose of the hearing was determine liability and assess damages and amount of compensation that should be awarded. The judge was informed that the employee was working alone in his sector of the plant at the time of the accident, and that no safe system of work had been implemented by the council for the workers at the sewerage plant.
The council defended the claim for compensation for a slip and fall injury at work. Their legal team had argued that one of the employee´s own responsibilities to keep the paths clear of hazards, both for his own safety and his fellow employee’s. They further stated that if he needed additional tools to complete his duties, he should have asked for them. The council contested that the employee´s accident had occurred due to his own lack of care and negligence, and thus denied all liability.
Judge Fullam agreed with the defendants that the employee was partially responsible for his accident, and therefore part of the liability for his accident should be attributed to him. However he accepted the employee´s evidence that the pumps in the plant frequently malfunctioned, and he did not have time to clean the paths to an appropriate standard on a regular basis. Judge Fullam also acknowledged that flumes surrounding the inlet channels were in a bad state on the day of the accident.
The judge said that he would have awarded the plaintiff €79,000 compensation for a slip and fall accident at work, however he was reducing the award by 40% to account for the plaintiff´s contributory negligence. The adjusted settlement of the claim consequently amounted to €47,400.