Ireland has a serious compensation problem and NOTHING is done about it. But hopefully shocking cases like this one will EVENTUALLY get a government to fix this stupid situation. But what happened?
A 59-year old woman (Teresa Wall from Swords) went for a hill walk on the Wicklow Way in August 2013. Because she wasn’t careful enough, she tripped and fell on her knee. It seemingly was a bad fall that required a few stitches, but nothing was broken and no long-term pain or damage has been reported. Similar situations have happened MANY times before and if you go hillwalking or mountain climbing or do any other rough-ish outdoor sport/exercise, you should know that you can get injured.
The Irish Independent reported here.
In this case, the woman was walking on a “board walk” that is made up of old railway sleepers. The board walk is there to protect the flora and fauna on the mountain, but also to help walkers get over boggy/marshy/wet stretches. The railway sleepers are made of wood and they suffer from the wet and wind and were “badly rotted”. Well, what would normal people do? Be EXTRA careful in the same way as you would be extra careful on bad ground. And if they fall? They get up again and sort out the damage, but they are NOT running to the courts!
Teresa Wall wanted money! She sued the National Parks and Wildlife Service and unfortunately she wasn’t told to get lost, but instead judge Jacqueline Linnane outrageously awarded her EUR 40,000….for a few stitches on the knee! Unbelievable!
The woman claimed that she walked “all around the world” for 40 years, that she ran half-marathons on a weekly basis and that she had climbed in the Himalayas to the base camp on Mount Everest. She also claimed that the injury meant that she now could no longer hill climb or run marathons.
What do you think mountain climbers get who get injured or even killed on Mount Everest? Do they sue Nepal? Or maybe the creator of the mountain? They sure won’t! And if something bad had happened on her climb in the Himalayas she wouldn’t have received a cent.
And what is the ridiculous amount of 40k for that judge Linnane so generously gave away of not-her-own-money?
Now, accidents and compensations happen all the time, but why is this one such a significant case? See, the result of it is that anybody else who gets a little scratch on a walk in the Wicklow Mountains or any other outdoor activity area in Ireland on private or public ground will be able to sue for the most ridiculous reasons. And for that reason we will see more “DO NOT ENTER” signs and wonderful walks like the Wicklow Way might be closed for the public.
The negative follow-on effect thanks to Teresa Wall and Jacqueline Linnane’s actions is not yet comprehensible, but will most likely be HUGE!!
This has to be changed! Crazy claims like this should be thrown out of court and even where compensation is paid, it should be based on a predetermined compensation “price list” as it is done already in many other countries to take this total randomness our of judges decisions.
An example for leg-related injuries from the German claims table is here. If you translate it with Google Translate or something similar or if you are able to read German, you will be able to see that the money paid for a light injury (dog bite with car to thigh fracture) is EUR 450-5900. For a middle severity injury which results in a severe disability and reduction in earning capability of 60% (That’s quite serious!!) is up to EUR 65,000, but that is FAR FAR worse than what happened on Wicklow Way.