Physio receives €1m in damages after fall on ice

 Nilofar Ikram, employed by the HSE as a physiotherapist specialising in paediatric care, slipped on icy steps outside a Dublin hospital in January 2010 as she came to the assistance of an elderly person. Picture: Press 22

A physiotherapist was awarded damages of over €1m against the HSE yesterday arising from a fall on icy steps at Baggott St Community Hospital, Dublin, four years ago.

Nilofar Ikram, a 36-year-old married mother-of-two, who now lives in Dooradoyle, Limerick, slipped when she went to help an elderly person on the hospital steps.

After a six-day hearing in the High Court, sitting in Limerick, Mr Justice David Keane ruled the HSE had failed in its duty of care, and this failure directly led to the accident, which caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

The court was told that due to the injuries she sustained, Ms Ikram would never be able to engage in gainful employment again.

Of the €1,001,239 damages, Mr Justice Keane allowed the plaintiff €675,000 for future loss of earnings. Costs were also awarded. He ordered that €750,000 be paid forthwith and put a stay on the remainder pending an appeal, on the application of counsel for the HSE.

On January 7, 2010, Ms Ikram was leaving the hospital when she noticed an elderly person on the steps and went to warn her of the dangerous conditions, because of snow and ice. In doing so, Ms Ikram fell and hit off 10 or 11 steps. She sustained serious muscle injuries to her lower back.

The HSE denied liability and said Ms Ikram was guilty of contributory negligence. She claimed the HSE was in breach of contract by failing to keep the hospital steps clear of ice.

Earlier, a security guard, concerned at the state of the steps, went to a shop to buy rock salt, but it had all been sold out. A second security guard tried to clear the ice and snow with boiling water. They also placed signs with the wording: ‘Caution wet floor.’ Later that day a crew gritted the steps.

Mr Justice Keane said legislation puts an onus on employers to ensure all exits and entrances should be kept clear. He said the defendant had failed in its duty of care which led to the accident. He said the security men acted in a very civic-minded way.

Medical evidence was given that Ms Ikram now suffers from chronic pain syndrome, which would have to be managed for the rest of her life.

Ms Ikram’s solicitor, Ellen Twomey said: “It was a hard-fought case. She has got what she deserves, because she will never be able to work again basically, and she will need a lot of rehabilitation. Her life as she knew it is irreparably changed.”


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