Judge Awards Compensation for a Fall on the Escalator at Dublin Airport
A pensioner from Kilcullen in County Kildare has been awarded €40,000 compensation for a fall on the escalator at Dublin Airport after a hearing at the High Court.
On 2nd November 2011, Elizabeth Lavin had taken the escalator to the upper level of Dublin Airport´s Terminal 2. As she was ascending on the escalator, the moving stairs made a sudden judder. Due to what was later described as “an unfortunate neophyte in the ways of escalators,” Elizabeth lost her balance and fell forwards over her hand luggage – landing face-down on the metal stairs.
Sixty-nine year old Elizabeth was taken to Dublin´s Beaumont Hospital, where she was treated for minor lacerations and a head injury. Following her accident, Elizabeth was unable to perform everyday tasks due to pains in her head, arm, hip and knee. She tried managing the pain with painkillers, but eventually had to be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon.
Elizabeth sent an application for assessment to the Injuries Board – claiming compensation for a fall on the escalator at Dublin Airport. However, Dublin Airport Authority PLC denied liability for Elizabeth´s injuries and the Injuries Board issued Elizabeth with an authorisation to pursue the claim through the courts. Her case was heard this past week at the High Court.
At the hearing, Mr Justice Michael Hanna heard claims that Dublin Airport had failed to ensure the safety of passengers by designing the airport in such a way that the escalator on which Elizabeth fell was the only apparent access to the upper level of Terminal 2 for passengers with luggage. Although a lift existed, it was not until 2013 that signs were erected directing passengers to the lift – two years after Elizabeth´s accident.
The airport authority defended against the claim for compensation for a fall on the escalator at Dublin Airport by producing CCTV footage which showed Elizabeth failing to use the handrail of the escalator before she fell. It was also claimed that her injuries were exacerbated because she had placed her hand luggage in front of her and not behind.
Judge Hanna dismissed the airport authority´s defence and said the Elizabeth could not be held responsible for “an unfortunate neophyte in the ways of escalators”, for failing to use the handrail of the escalator or placing her hand luggage in front of her. However, the judge commented that Elizabeth could have asked an airport assistant if a lift was available had she been apprehensive about using the escalator.
The judge reduced the settlement of compensation Elizabeth´s claim for compensation for a fall on the escalator at Dublin Airport from €60,000 to €40,000, saying that she would have to accept one-third contributory negligence towards her injuries. He also gave Dunlin Airport Authority PLC leave to appeal his verdict provided that they paid €25,000 of the settlement to Elizabeth immediately.