A 52-year-old woman who claimed she was left with a scar on her leg which looked like “a shark bite” after a steel girder fell on her at work has been awarded €189,000 by the High Court.
Store supervisor Joann Twomey, Mr Justice Charles Meenan said, was an honest and truthful witness who did not seek to exaggerate the effects of her injury.
The judge, who during the assessment of damages was shown the scar on the woman’s right calf, said it was clearly visible from a distance. “On viewing at an angle, there is a clear indent though I do not think it is of the order of a shark bite”, the judge said, adding he understood why Ms Twomey is of “such a view.”
The judge also accepted Ms Twomey’s evidence that because of the scar on her calf she only feels able to wear trousers.
Joann Twomey (aged 52) from Patrick’s Hill, Cork, had sued Jeral Ltd trading as Daybreak, Thomas Davis Street, Blackpool, Cork, and her employers Jeremy and Alice Buckley as a result of the accident on April 27, 2015, when a steel girder fell on the back of her leg causing a 25cm long laceration to her right calf.
She claimed there was a failure to secure the iron bar and that it had been stored in a manner that was dangerous. It was further claimed there was a failure to provide her with a safe place of work.
Liability was admitted in the case which was before the court for assessment of damages only. Ms Twomey was represented by Elaine O’Sullivan solicitor.
The court heard Ms Twomey after the accident was taken to Cork University Hospital and a number of days later had to have an operation to suture her leg. After her discharge from hospital the wound became infected and she was re-admitted. She also later had to have skin grafts.
Mr Justice Meenan said the woman has an ongoing complaint of pain, which she described as being sharp around the scar tissue, shooting or radiating down to her ankle.
He said she has been left with a scar on her calf together with two further scars from where she had skin grafts. She had given evidence that the calf scar causes her particular upset and embarrassment when she goes swimming.
Ms Twomey had told the court because of the scar she no longer wears skirts and as a result of the pain does not wear high heels.
The judge said he did not believe that the pain is an invention on the part of Ms Twomey and her employment history and her involvement in numerous courses presents a picture of a woman who is anxious to remain in employment and acquire new skills.
Mr Justice Meenan said the ongoing pain has impacted on Ms Twomey’s working life and she now has to work reduced hours. He was satisfied that she had established a basis for the court to award compensation for future loss of earnings.
The judge said he had taken into account the ongoing consequences of the measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as regards the retail sector. He considered a 40% reduction appropriate on the future loss of earnings claim awarding just over €69,000 in that category.
Mr Justice Meenan awarded general damages of €80,000 damages and special damages bringing the total to €189,409.