Man who tripped over hole at halting site gets €60,000

The Irish Times – April 10, 2017

A man who suffered a nasty fracture to a knuckle on his right hand after tripping over a hole on a footpath while jogging at a Dublin halting site has been awarded €60,000 damages by a High Court judge.

The award by Mr Justice Anthony Barr includes €5,000 aggravated damages based on the judge’s finding the evidence did not support allegations Martin Stokes was putting forward a fraudulent claim.

Finding Mr Stokes had injured himself in the manner alleged by him, Mr Justice Barr found he had not made a fraudulent claim and was entitled to be compensated for upset caused to him due to the nature of the unsuccessful defence put forward by South Dublin County Council.

The council side advanced a defence Mr Stokes had probably suffered his injuries while boxing and alleged he had fraudulently tried to blame the council for his injuries, the judge said.

Surgery

Mr Stokes had sued the council as a result of an accident on September 18th, 2011, at the halting site, owned by the council, at Oldcastle Park, Bawnogue, Clondalkin.

Mr Stokes, who lived with his parents in a caravan on the site, was jogging up a footpath leading from the entrance to the halting site to the caravans when he alleged he tripped over a depression or hole in the surface of a footpath and fell, fracturing a knuckle on a finger of his right hand. He later had surgery and is left with a scar in the knuckle area.

The judge said Mr Stokes gave evidence he was returning to the halting site after jogging and was on the path when his right leg went in the hole and he fell forward on to his right hand.

He noted the court heard Mr Stokes was involved in a road traffic accident when he was a passenger in a car hit from the rear on September 17th 2011 and suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck and back.

The judge said it was put to Mr Stokes in cross-examination it was somewhat incredible he would decide to go jogging the day after the road accident but he had said he had done so to alleviate his symptoms.

Soft tissue injury

Mr Justice Barr accepted the evidence of a medical witness some people, particularly those engaged in sport, would try to “run off” a soft tissue injury and accepted this was a “credible explanation” for Mr Stokes going jogging the day after the car accident.

It was obvious from content and tenor of questions put to Mr Stokes the court was being invited to draw the conclusion it was a fraudulent claim but that allegation was not established on the evidence before the court.

Mr Stokes has been consistent in his account of the accident and, while he delayed bringing the matter to the attention of the council or his solicitor, the judge was satisfied it was not a fraudulent claim.

Addressing Mr Stokes’s claim he was unable to return to boxing, the judge said he was not satisfied Mr Stokes made any reasonable attempt to get back to that sporting pursuit.

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