Archive for March, 2016

Court Awards Compensation for Slip and Fall Injuries at the Entrance to a Church

Posted on: March 24th, 2016

The Belfast High Court has awarded a sixty-six year old pensioner £60,000 compensation for slip and fall injuries at the entrance to a church.

Angela McCluskey was visiting St Malachy´s Chapel in Armagh in December 2010 to light a candle on the anniversary of her niece´s death when she slipped on ice on the path leading up to the church entrance. The former hospital cleaner and school dinner lady fell awkwardly, dislocating her knee and sustaining ligament damage as a result.

Angela was taken to hospital, where she underwent surgery for her injuries, and discharged some weeks later in a wheelchair. Angela´s home in Armagh was adapted to account for her impaired mobility and she has since moved to a single-storey bungalow which is easier for her to negotiate with the aid of a walking stick.

After seeking legal advice, Angela claimed compensation for slip and fall injuries at the entrance to a church against St Patrick’s Archdiocesan Trust – the authority responsible for the safety of visitors to churches in Armagh. The Trust denied responsibility for Angela´s injuries, arguing that the path on which Angela slipped had been salted the previous evening.

The claim was resolved in a recent hearing at Belfast High Court before Mrs Justice Siobhan Keegan. Judge Keegan heard that the Trust had no formal system in place to manage the church grounds at the time of Angela´s accident, but had been doing its best during a period of extremely inclement weather to keep the church open to visitors.

Judge Keegan found in Angela´s favour; commenting that although the path leading up to the church entrance had been salted the previous evening, it should have been checked on the morning of Angela´s accident to see if it remained a hazard. The judge told the court: “In my view the risk was clearly foreseeable considering the extreme weather at the time”.

The judge also rejected any suggestion of contributory negligence, saying that there were a number of measures that the Trust could have taken to prevent the risk of injury to visitors – even if it meant closing the majority of access points to the church and creating one dedicated path. Commenting that providing a safe route to visitors was not an “unrealistic standard of care to impose upon the defendant,” Judge Keegan awarded Angela £60,000 compensation for slip and fall injuries at the entrance of a church.

Pedestrian Refused Compensation for Tripping on a Pothole

Posted on: March 21st, 2016

A pedestrian who was injured when she tripped and fell on a hole in the road has been refused compensation for tripping on a pothole by her local council.

In December 2015, fifty-three year old Barbara Fielding from Blackpool in Lancashire was walking her dog along Windermere Road when she tripped on a pothole and fell onto her face. Barbara suffered a significant head trauma, cut lip and black eye, and was severely shaken by the fall.

On her daughter´s insistence, Barbara attended the A&E Department of Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where she underwent a CT scan to check against a potential brain injury. Although the scan came back clear, it was five weeks before the lump on her head went down and her bruising subsided.

During this time, Barbara suffered from depression and spent much of the Christmas holiday in bed. She has since changed the route she uses to walk her dog as the site of the pothole still traumatises her and, other than walking her dog, rarely ventures outside of her home.

Barbara also took photographs of her injuries and sent them to Blackpool Council, requesting compensation for tripping on a pothole. However, the council refused her request – stating that the pothole on which she tripped was not large enough to qualify for compensation.

In a written reply to Barbara´s request for compensation for tripping on a pothole, the council explained that it regularly conducts inspections of the town´s roads and will repair any pothole with a depth of 40mm or more. The council had inspected Windermere Road in June 2015 and not considered the hole dangerous at the time.

Speaking to the Blackpool Gazette, Barbara expressed her surprise at the council´s refusal to pay compensation for tripping on a pothole. “They say the hole isn’t big enough to be considered a pothole – but how big does a hole have to be?” Barbara said. “They know the extent of the injuries I had because they’ve got the photographs”.

Barbara is now considering her next course of action for, although the pothole on which Barbara tripped has now been repaired, Blackpool Council continues to deny liability for her injuries.

Editor´s Note: In 1978, Pitman v. Southern Electricity Board established the criteria under which it was possible to claim compensation for tripping on a pothole. Claims should be assessed on the length of time that a pothole has presented a risk of injury in relation to the volume of foot traffic on the road where it is located. The depth and width of a pothole should be considered immaterial. 

Family take Legal Advice about Costco Product Liability Claim after Hoverboard Fire

Posted on: March 4th, 2016

A family from Bradford has taken legal advice to see if they are entitled to make a Costco product liability claim for injuries sustained in a property fire.

In November 2015, Vinh Hung Chiem and Thu Tram from Wyke near Bradford bought their two children a hoverboard from the Leeds branch of Costco as a gift for Christmas. On January 15 – while the toy was plugged into an electrical socket to charge its battery – the hoverboard burst into flames, setting light to the family home.

Fortunately a friend of the children – Jibril Faris (11) – saw the fire start and raised the alarm. Jibril, Tony (9) and Karen (8) escaped from the fire with minor burn injuries. The children – with Thu, who was also in the house at the time the fire started – were taken to hospital where they were treated for their injuries.

The Chiem family home was completely destroyed in the accident and – according to Thu – the children still suffer nightmares. “The kids could have been killed. They all believed they were going to die in the fire. Everything was ruined in the fire… it’s turned our lives upside down” Thu told BBC reporters.

The West Yorkshire Fire Service conducted an investigation into the cause of the fire and confirmed Jibril´s story that the fire was started by the hoverboard. A spokesperson for the Fire Service commented the likelihood was that lithium batteries in the hoverboard had overheated and exploded or ignited.

Now the family has taken legal advice to see if it is entitled to make a Costco product liability claim against the store at which the hoverboard was purchased. Thu said: “We thought we bought a reliable product from a trusted retailer and we want to know how something with so much potential to cause this type of devastation was sold to us.”

The family´s solicitor commented that the family would appear to have a Costco product liability claim under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if it is proven that the hoverboard was faulty. A spokesperson for Costco UK said: “This is a terrible tragedy and we are looking into this matter but we have no comment at this time.”