The High Court has awarded a compensation settlement to an employee of Dunnes Stores for an injury that was the result of a slip and fall incident in the workplace.

In July 2011, Dorota Michalowska (29) was working in the canteen of Dunnes Stores in Clonmel, Country Tipperary. As she was clearing the tables and moving items to the kitchen to be cleaned, she slipped on a frozen chip that was on the floor. The fell to the ground, and damaged the soft tissue of her knee.

Dorota was forced to undergo physiotherapy for her injury, which left her largely immobilised. She was unable to work for thirty-five weeks after the incident occurred. She sought legal advice, and decided to make a claim against her employer for a canteen slip and fall injury to seek compensation for the time during which she was rendered unable to work.

The defendant denied any liability for Dorota’s injury. Their solicitors argued that the victim herself had been responsible for preparing a large quantity of the food, and it was plausible that it was her own fault that there had been a frozen chip on the floor. Therefore, Dorota’s own negligence was the cause of the injury, and Dunnes Stores was not at fault.

The case went to the High Court, where it was heard by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. Evidence was given by both parties. The judge remarked that Dorota had not been working on her own in the canteen that day; two colleagues shared her responsibilities. Therefore, “on the balance of probabilities”, it was more probable that either of them had dropped the chip as opposed to Dorota herself. She ruled that Dunnes Stores was liable for the injury due to the negligence of its staff to pick the chip up. She also noted that had the victim dropped the chip herself, it would have defrosted by the time Dorota had finished her tasks around the canteen and slipped on it, hence making it even more unlikely that Dorota was responsible for her knee injury.

A further payment of €20,000 was awarded to account for Dorota’s future pain, as it is likely that she will suffer from arthritis in future as a result of her injuries.