A delivery man was making a delivery to a customer’s house. He parked his van close to the wall of the customer’s house and went around the other side to get the parcel. On doing so, he took a step backwards and his right foot went into a pothole on the road. The pothole was about eight inches in depth and about two feet wide. He stumbled but did not fall.
The plaintiff said he experienced immediate pain to his right knee, and he was unable to continue working that day. The pain continued and he was not able to partake in activities. After enduring the pain for a while, he had an MRI scan done which showed a significant injury to his knee.
Medical evidence showed he had post-exertion pain in the anterior aspect of his right knee. Initially the doctor recommended injections to deal with the pain but later changed that opinion and suggested instead the plaintiff undergo arthroscopy surgery.
An engineer for the plaintiff said several repairs had been done to the pothole but these were deficient to fix the problem. It was conceded that the pothole would be visible to pedestrians but not a person exiting a car.
The court was satisfied that the responsibility for the road lay with the County Council and the repairs to the pothole by the council were clearly insufficient. It followed therefore that the council, or its agents were negligent in failing to carry out proper repairs to the pothole.
Having decided on the party responsible for the accident, the court then considered the amount of damages that the plaintiff was entitled to.
The MRI evidence also established that the plaintiff had suffered a tear of the lateral meniscus in his knee. The court was satisfied with the plaintiff consultant’s reasoning for changing his opinion on the necessity for surgery. The court rejected the suggestion, made in cross-examination, that the consultant had recommended surgery to “puff up” the plaintiff’s case.
Having considered all the evidence, the court awarded €45,000 for pain and suffering to date with €15,000 for future pain and suffering. The court also awarded €5,000 for the costs of the procedure and €4,000 for the plaintiff’s inability to work for four weeks post-surgery amounting to a total of €69,000.
Hickey v. Tipperary County Council  IEHC 362.