Two Versions of ‘Slip and Fall’ Accident Recalled in High Court

Two versions of a ’slip and fall’ accident were given by a County Waterford man in the High Court in Waterford last week, in his action for damages against Dungarvan Town Council arising out of a tripping hazard on a footpath in the town.

Father of three, William ‘Billy’ Monahan (60) married but separated, with an address at Care Choice Retirement Village, Abbeyside, and formerly of Town Court, Dungarvan, told the court that he felt embarrassed, shamed and humiliated by his fall on the footpath at Youghal Road, Dungarvan on the night of February 13th, 2011.

To save face he told an ambulance driver and A&E nurse at Waterford Regional Hospital that he fractured his left upper arm when he tripped at home and fell down the stairs hitting a table and injuring his left shoulder, the court was told.

The plaintiff said he had a fear of hospitals and wanted to “lessen the seriousness” of the accident by claiming that it happened in his home. He feared people would think he was getting old if it became known that he fell in the street.

Barrister William Fitzgerald, BL, instructed by David Burke, Solr, for the defendants said there was a serious discrepancy between the two versions of the accident.

Mr Jeremy Maher, SC, for the plaintiff, said his client fell at dusk when going home from a pub in Dungarvan after watching the Ireland v England rugby march. During the game he had three pints and he fell on the footpath at Youghal Road.

The plaintiff did not accept he was incapacitated in any way by three or four pints. The defendants were responsible for the footpath and it was clearly reinstated in a negligent fashion and the surface “crumbled”.

A friend named John Power emerged from a nearby garage and saw him on the ground and came to his assistance and helped him to his feet and a lady named Yvette Carney passed in her car and drove him home.

It was conceded that the plaintiff did not give a correct account at the hospital of how the accident happened as he felt that falling in the street was “mortifying”, said Mr. Maher, SC.

In evidence, William Monahan said after he left Tommy Power’s pub and his left foot went into a hole and he struck his shoulder and forehead against the ground.

In reply to questions he said a week after the accident when the trauma was over he told his GP Dr Tom Higgins that he fell on the Youghal Road. He was embarrassed and ashamed at falling in the street and he wanted to stay out of hospital.

Consulting Civil Engineer Ben Harte, for the plaintiff, said he examined the accident scene and found it to be a “tripping hazard” for pedestrians walking in either direction. At some stage the path was excavated to fit the fire hydrant and it was poorly reinstated.

Later, Mr Justice Barr was told by Mr Maher, SC, that the case had been settled and the proceedings were struck out.

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