Two recent decisions in personal injury claims are worth a look at.
The decisions could probably be seen to be surprising to the lay person.
Because one involved a young man suffering a broken ankle at a concert, and losing his claim.
And the other involved a lady falling off the toilet in her own home.
And she won.
But the question of legal negligence is the key determinant of each decision.
Oxegen Festival, Punchestown
The first involved a concert-goer at the Oxegen festival at Punchestown racecourse. He broke his ankle when it got stuck in the mud and sued MCD, the concert promoters.
The Judge in this case noted that “some recklessly robust behaviour” on the part of one or more other concert-goers caused his injuries.
However she said
“It is not just or fair for Mr Ponisi to now seek to render MCD liable for his injuries when they were not aware either of the intended actions of these individuals or the allegedly hazardous nature of the underfoot conditions” .
“Organisers of these events can only do what is reasonable in order to provide for the safety of those who attend.”
It is simply not possible to expect the promoters “to provide a site that will remain mud free for 80,000 people over a weekend against a backdrop of six weeks of bad weather,” she said.
Ruling MCD were not negligent, Ms Justice Irvine said she would have awarded €60,000 damages if Mr Ponisi had been successful in establishing negligence.
She was satisfied Oxegen 2007 was planned and managed in a manner which was reasonable in all of the circumstances for the purposes of seeking to protect the safety of festival-goers from injuries that might occur.
She did not believe MCD could be considered to have been negligent merely because there may have been some spot in the arena, where Mr Ponisi was, which had a few inches of mud.
The claimant will now have to pay his own and MCD’s High Court costs which will probably be eye watering given that the case took up 2 days of the High Court’s time.
The key decision to be made in this case was whether MCD was legally negligent, that is whether it took all reasonable steps to make sure the concert was as safe as possible. The onus on MCD was not to make the concert “bullet proof” in terms of accidents; taking reasonable measures for foreseeable risks was sufficient.
Lady Falls Off Her Own Toilet
The other case involved a lady who fell off the toilet in her own home. She got such a fright from a falling tile from her bathroom wall that she fell forward and injured her knee.
The background to the incident was that some weeks before she had engaged the services of a building contractor to have her bathroom re-tiled. The contractor employed a tiler to do the work.
However the lady sued the contractor for her injuries on the basis that she claimed he was negligent and had, among other things, failed to ensure that the work had been done properly.
The contractor believed the claim was a fraudulent one because he claimed she wanted different tiles to those used.
The claimant suffered ongoing pain in her knee as a result of falling forward off the toilet due to the fright of the falling tile.
She need physiotherapy and attended her GP many times. She had also suffered from an underlying degenerative condition in her knee.
Nevertheless the Judge accepted her version of events.
She awarded the claimant €25,000 for pain and suffering, €350 expenses, and €2,500 to replace all the tiles.
To win a personal injury claim, you must prove negligence by the alleged wrongdoer.
And negligence is a legal concept with a number of strands or “proofs” to it. (Learn more about negligence here).