After a workplace accident involved a collision with a door that smashed fours of her front teeth, IT worker Roseanna MacDonald has been awarded more than €16,500 personal injury compensation at the Circuit Civil Court.
Despite being held partly to blame for the incident that occurred at her place of work, Brightwater Selection, Judge Justice Dara Hayes awarded Ms McDonald – who has an address at Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 – was being awarded the compensation due to the injuries she sustained.
As he was confirming the award, Justice Hayes said Ms McDonald sustained major dental injuries in the workplace accident in January 2017. This was a result of her walking directly into double plate glass doors at the Brightwater Selection (Ireland) Ltd’s offices located at Merrion Square, Dublin.
Commenting on the suffering experienced by Ms McDonald, Judge Hayes said: “In the immediate aftermath she was bleeding from her mouth and broke two teeth and fragments of each of them were found on the floor. She experienced significant shock and distress.”
Ms McDonald’s injuries included fractures to her four upper front teeth, along with nerve damage to two of these. This resulted in the teeth turning black in colour. Due to the incident Ms McDonald had to have the four teeth crowned.
Counsel for Ms McDonald, barrister Sharbee Morrin, informed the Judge that his client was in process of moving IT equipment to her car which was parked outside the Brightwater’s offices in Ballsbridge. During this process she had been entering and leaving the office through one of the double glass doors which she had left in an open position. However, on the last leg of her task the door had been somehow closed. Due to this she walked directly into it.
Appearing in court with O’Hanrahan Solicitors, Mr Morrin, said the doors had previously contained plain frosted strips. However, unbeknownst to Ms McDonald, these strips were taken away as there were plans in place for new frosted strips that included the company’s logo.
The Court was told that a major point of contention had been whether or not two metre-long perpendicular door handles acted as an adequate warning to indicate that the doors were shut as people were approaching. Justice Hayes said that expert forensic engineer Donal Terry contended that, in his opinion, the only acceptable rationale for the occurence of the incident where Ms McDonald did not notice the closed door was that she did not pay full attention to the circumstances in front of her.
Commenting on the Ms McDonald said that she had likely been engaged with a superior prior to the collision taking place.
As he was commenting on the case before him, Justice Hayes issued a plea to employers to ensure that there are clear warnings in place on transparent glass doors for the safety of those using them.
He said: “Clear plate glass doors create an obvious risk of people walking into them and I am satisfied in this case the handles that were present did not provide adequate warning. It is often not possible to eliminate risk but it is always possible to mitigate and guard against it. It is important for occupiers and employers to take steps to minimise risk not just for the novice or those unfamiliar with the premises or workplace but to guard and protect against familiarity breeding complacency.”
Judge Hayes said that the incident that resulted in Ms McDonald’s injuries could have been avoided by the placing of more noticeable markings on the doors. However, he added that Ms McDonald had to bear some blame for the accident and he calculated her liability at 35%.
Due to the significant dental treatment, including four crowns that will likely need to be replaced after 15 years, he awarded general damages at €17,500 together with €4,220 for dental work to date and €3,960 for dental treatment that will be necessary in the future.
After accounting for Ms McDonald’s contributory negligence, the final workplace compensation award was for €16,692 and legal costs involved.