A man has been awarded over €35,000 in damages in Dublin Circuit Civil Court as a result of an incident that occurred in an IKEA car park in 2016 in which the man banged his head off of a low height advertising sign.
Patrick Sweeney, a 58-year-old environmental scientist from Terenure, Dublin, told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that he had been returning goods which he had previously purchased at the IKEA store on St. Margaret’s Road, Ballymun.
After parking his car, Mr. Sweeney began to walk towards the store with the goods that he had intended to return when he suddenly and heavily struck his head off one of four large IKEA advertising panels which were mounted on aluminium frames in the centre of the car park.
He claimed that his forehead had been hit heavily off the advertising panel and that his head and neck had been hyperextended backwards, causing him severe shock and immense pain in his neck.
He had attempted to continue into the store, but upon beginning his shopping tasks he felt unable to continue as a result of the injury that he had sustained.
Mr. Sweeney then drove home and went to bed in an attempt to recover. By this time, the pain that he was suffering from had extended from his neck down to his lower back. He then took some mild medication to try and ease the pain.
Brian Cooney BL, who appeared alongside solicitor Damian Tansey for Mr. Sweeney, told Judge Linnane that his client was particularly adversely affected by the accident due to the fact that he had been still recovering from a coronary artery bypass and aortic valve replacement operation when it occurred.
Mr. Conroy emphasised that the accident had taken place only five months after the operation, and that Mr. Sweeney was undergoing rehabilitation and still was not fit to return to work.
He further submitted that the advertising signs had not been placed at a sufficiently safe height so as to avoid the creation of a hazard to pedestrians, and that IKEA had also failed to provide pedestrians with walkways in the car park, particularly around the signs.
It was said to the Court that Mr. Sweeney had attended his GP several days after the accident, complaining of pain in his neck and back. His doctor had prescribed him pain relieving medication and had told him to apply ice packs to the affected areas.
Following a review by his orthopaedic surgeon in June 2016, Mr. Sweeney was found to be still suffering from pain in his neck and back, and had been unable to do long periods of work in front of a computer. Furthermore, his return to work had been further delayed by his injuries.
Judge Linnane stated that Mr. Sweeney was a man in his late fifties who was recovering from heart surgery when he had hit his head heavily against the advertising sign.
She said that from the photographs which had been shown to the court she could see that the advertisements were at a dangerous height and almost the same height of an average man.
Awarding Mr. Sweeney €35,360 in damages, Judge Linnane emphasised that there were no pedestrian walkways provided by IKEA in the car park area and that she felt it was foreseeable that someone would walk into the signs.
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