The €40,000 award of damages issued to Teresa Wall for injuries she suffered after falling on the Wicklow Way, will be challenged in the High Court, it was confirmed today.
The legal argument against Ms Wall is likely to focus on whether or not there was a failure on the part of the National Parks and Wildlife Service to take reasonable care to maintain a boardwalk in a safe condition. This comes under Section 4 of the Occupiers' Liability Act, 1995.
Ms Wall (59) from Rathingle Cottages, Swords, Co Dublin, injured her knee after falling on a boardwalk of partially rotten railway sleepers. In a Circuit Civil Court hearing, Ms Wall claimed that she was directed by signs on the sleepers, which ultimately led to her injury.
Her counsel said that the boardwalk constituted “a structure” under the 1995 Act which imposed a much higher duty of care in the maintenance and management of it.
The Act stipulated that where “a structure” had been provided for use by a recreational user, the occupier “shall” take reasonable care to maintain it in a safe condition” therefore, Mr McParland argued, his client did not even have to establish that the Parks Service was in breach of its duty not to injure intentionally and not to act with reckless disregard.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane said that the counsel for Ms Wall, failed to establish that the boardwalk was a danger or that the Parks Service had intentionally injured her or acted in reckless disregard towards her.
She said the evidence from witnesses for the defence had been that there was an audit inspection every two years on which it relied to rectify any problems and on hill walkers to report anything which needed attention.
She said the defence basically put forward by the Parks Service was that Ms Wall was tired and not looking where she was going. The argument is also believed to say that works of repair and maintenance would require the airlifting in of a crew at a cost both to the habitat and financially.
Judge Linnane decided that Ms Wall was directed to use the boardwalk of second hand wooden railway sleepers – a structure it had placed on the land.
Sources have confirmed that appeal papers are to be lodged within a matter of days.