Injuries Caused by Automatic Doors

As their name suggests, automatic doors open automatically – without the need to manually push/pull them using an attached implement such as a bar, knob, or handle – when a person triggers their motion sensor or pushes the appropriate button. These are often found in commercial and industrial establishments, and are meant to make entering and exiting more convenient. Despite their obvious advantage over traditional designs, though, automatic doors have been involved in numerous injury-causing accidents, and have thus been the subject of many complaints and personal injury compensation claims.

What is Negligence? For individuals who suffered physical harm as a result of walking into closed automatic doors, the term “negligence” is very important. Establishing which of the two parties involved in the incident – that is, the individual(s) who experienced the accident and the company/owner of the establishment where the door is located – committed negligence and is thus to blame is a crucial part of both the claims and settlement process. That said, in UK law negligence occurs when one’s carelessness results in harm done to another person. There is no intent to cause harm; however, one’s inability to foresee the negative consequences of an action has resulted in it.

Who is at Fault? The answer to this question is difficult to ascertain – that’s why solicitors are often hired both by the complainant and the defendant to take care of this part. Basically, though, the company or owners of the establishment where the door is placed are liable if they overlooked informing the public of any glitches or issues that resulted in the door being defective and failing to open at the right time. On the other hand, the complainant is at fault if the other party successfully proves the following: they exhausted all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of the people entering and exiting their premises, and the injury the complainant sustained resulted from his own carelessness.

When Can a Claim for Personal Injury Compensation be Made? No personal injury compensation claim can be made if the complainant does not have proof of any physical or psychological injury caused by the accident involving automatic doors. “Proof” in this sense may include wounds, scars, and medical records that indicate treatment after the accident for injuries sustained. If the complainant is an employee of the owners of the establishment, the company’s Accident Report Book can likewise be used to support a personal injury compensation claim.

Is a Court Appearance Necessary? Although the solicitor hired by both parties involved will likely prepare all documents needed should the case reach the UK courts, only a small percentage of similar cases end up with a judge delivering a verdict. More often than not the complainant or plaintiff and the defendant settle out-of-court, in which case a court appearance is unnecessary. Here, negotiations are done with a 3rd party insurer – that is, the insurance company of the defendant – who will be responsible for paying compensation to the victim of the accident. On a related note, the amount that will be received by any individual who has made a successful personal injury claim will largely depend on case circumstances and how much he or she hopes to receive as compensation.

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A young girl has been awarded €10,000 in compensation for an injury sustained to her finger in an incident occurring in a shop in March, 2011.

Naoise Walsh, aged six at the time of the incident, severely lacerated her finger when attempting to remove a drink carton from a refrigerator unit in Debenhams’ café in Henry Street, Dublin. Her finger was caught by the metal grill of the shelf inside the fridge, severely cutting it and causing heavy bleeding.

The emergency services were notified and Naoise was brought by ambulance to Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Her mother accompanied her on the journey. The wound was attended to on site, but required Naoise to revisit the hospital the following day for further checks to the area. Upon further examination, during which Naoise was under general anaesthetic, no extensive damage to the young girl’s tendons could be found. The wound was stitched and dressed before releasing Naoise from hospital later that day.

On behalf of her daughter, Amy Walsh from Bluebell, Dublin, sought legal advice and made a claim for the cut finger injury sustained by her child against Debenhams store. The defendant admitted liability for the incident, and offered a sum of €10,000 in compensation to the girl.

In order for the compensation to be agreed upon, the case was heard by the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin. Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard the case, and approved the settlement for Naoise of the aforementioned amount. It is a requirement for cases involving compensation for children that such a hearing take place.