A disputed claim for an accident at Dublin Airport has been settled at the High Court with the allocation of one-third contributory negligence against the plaintiff.
Sixty-nine year old Elizabeth Lavin arrived at Dublin Airport on 2nd November 2011 with the intention of flying to Manchester. As she was travelled towards Terminal 2 departures on the escalator, it suddenly juddered, causing Elizabeth to fall forward over her hand luggage and hit her head on the metal stairway.
Elizabeth – from Kilcullen in County Kildare – was taken to the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, where her head injury and minor lacerations were treated. She subsequently had to undergo orthopaedic treatment for pain in her arm, hip and knee after trying to manage the pains with painkillers. Elizabeth still has scars on her face and her upper lip from her accident.
A claim for an accident at Dublin Airport was submitted to the Injuries Board, but Dublin Airport Authority PLC denied liability for Elizabeth´s accident. The Injuries Board issued an authorisation for Elizabeth to pursue her claim for an accident at Dublin Airport through the courts, and it was heard this week by Mr Justice Michael Hanna.
At the High Court, Judge Hanna heard Elizabeth´s legal representatives claim that Dublin Airport had failed to take reasonable care of her safety. They also alleged that the Airport Authority had been negligent when designing the airport, so that the only apparent way in which passengers with luggage could reach the upper level of Terminal 2 was by escalator.
Dublin Airport argued that Elizabeth had failed to appropriately use the handrail of the escalator and had contributed to the accident by placing her hand luggage in front of her, instead of behind her. The airport produced CCTV footage to show how Elizabeth´s accident had occurred, and also told the judge that the option of a lift was available to passengers with luggage.
Judge Hanna then heard that Elizabeth was unaware that the option of a lift was available because signs directing passengers to the lift were not erected until 2013. The judge said that Elizabeth could not be considered to have contributed to the accident for failing to appropriately use the handrail or for placing her hand luggage in front of her.
However, the judge said that she could have asked a member of the airport staff to direct her to the lifts. In this respect, the judge said, Elizabeth should take some responsibility for her injuries. He assigned Elizabeth one-third contributory negligence and reduced the settlement of her claim for an accident at Dublin Airport from €60,000 to €40,000.