Limerick Circuit (civil) Court
A WOMAN who claimed she was was “thrown up a bus” when it braked heavily in early-morning traffic has been awarded more than €25,000 in damages.
Philomena Mulqueen, 46, of Gratton Court, Mulgrave Street, Limerick sued Bus Éireann and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) for damages arising from an incident at Mulgrave Street on December 11, 2014.
The plaintiff told Limerick Circuit (civil) Court, it was raining on the day that she was travelling on the bus to work when she was “thrown forward” when it braked suddenly.
While she told the court a white van had “shot across” the front of the bus as it approached a roundabout, CCTV footage from cameras on the bus showed this not to be the case.
In fact, the van can be seen travelling in front of the bus for around 30 seconds before slowing as it approaches traffic.
Mr Mulqueen told her barrister, Michael Purtill, that she twisted her knee and had to wear heavy strapping for a number of months after the accident.
“My knee buckled, it was a twist-type injury,” she said adding that it is “still at me all the time”. The plaintiff said she also hurt her ankle but that it has largely resolved itself since the incident.
She told Mr Purtill she can no longer walk long distances and that she had to give up one of her two jobs following the accident as it involved a lot of kneeling an bending.
“I feel very limited in what I can do, I am incapacitated and I and dependent of public transport, taxis and friends from lifts,” she said.
Being cross examined by barrister Niall O’Driscoll, Ms Mulqueen accepted she was standing on the bus despite there being some empty seats on the bus.
She also accepted that she was looking at her mobile phone when the incident happened and that she was only holding on (to the bus) with one hand.
Ms Mulqueen accepted she did not fall onto the floor of the bus as she initially stated and that she attended work as normal following the accident.
“I had an adrenaline rush, I was delighted to be alive,” she said adding that she attended UHL later in the day after he knee “swelled up like a balloon”.
Having viewed CCTV footage from four of the ten cameras on board the bus, Judge Raymond Groarke said he was satisfied it was a straightforward matter and that liability for the accident lay with Bus Éireann.
Accordingly, he dismissed the proceedings against MIBI.
Noting the evidence that Ms Mulqueen had fallen at home around a month before the accident on the bus, he said she was a “poor candidate for this type of incident”.
The judge said it was clear that traffic had backed up on the morning and that the bus was driving “too close to the van in the event that some form of emergency action had to be taken”.
He said it was a “pretty frightening experience” and he rejected the submissions that there had been some element of contributory negligence on the plaintiff’s part.
“People are allowed to stand on buses,” he said awarding damages totalling €25,190.
He awarded costs to both the plaintiff and MIBI.