The Court of Appeal recently overturned an award of €40,000 in favour of a lady who fell on a Dublin Airport escalator.
According to the evidence, the lady in question lost her balance and fell on the escalator to departures in Terminal 2 in November 2011. The evidence showed that she had sustained a nasty injury to her head and other soft tissue injuries.
She was due to fly to the UK and was accompanied by her sister-in-law aged 81 years of age and her niece. The Plaintiff was behind these two women on the escalator and was holding her carry-on luggage on the step behind her.
According to CCTV footage, she was not gripping the handrail and she was holding what appeared to be her boarding card. When she turned around to adjust her carry-on bag it caused her to fall over and down the escalator. It was only when another member of the public pushed the emergency button that the escalator stopped.
In the High Court she was awarded €60,000 but due to a finding of contributory negligence on her part it was reduced to €40,000.
Court of Appeal
However, in the Court of Appeal it was found that the duty of care of the owner/occupier of a premises is restricted to taking all reasonable steps to avoid injury which is known to exist or which ought to be known to exist.
It has a duty to prevent damage from unusual dangers. The Court of Appeal was of the view that an escalator did not present an unusual danger and the obligation on the owner/occupier was merely to use normal signage. For instance, directing people to the lifts as an alternative to using the escalator.
It was highlighted by the court that there was a handrail and individuals were also directed to the lifts if they so wished to use these for their own safety.
Ultimately the finding was that it was common sense that on a moving escalator the person would use the handrail in order to take reasonable care for their own safety. The finding was that the escalator was safe and in compliance with the relevant standards but the Plaintiff had not taken care for her own safety.
Read the signs & take care!