Claims News

Compensation for a Psychological Injury due to Being Trapped in a Lift Awarded to Woman

Posted on: October 8th, 2016

A judge has awarded €25,060 compensation for a psychological injury due to being trapped in a lift to a woman following a hearing at Dublin High Court.

On August 31, 2012, Marie Dicker (54) was visiting the Square Shopping Centre in Tallaght with one of her three children. Soon after Marie and her child took the lift to travel down to the ground floor, the lift stopped moving. Marie pressed the alarm to summon help and banged on the doors to attract the attention of passing shoppers, but it took four minutes and thirty-five seconds for a shopping centre security guard to respond to her cries for help and open the lift doors.

Although trapped in the lift for less than five minutes, the incident caused Marie – a department store supervisor from Walkinstown in Dublin – to suffer a recurrence of childhood claustrophobia. Marie found that she was unable to go into rooms without leaving the door open behind her, which made it difficult to use public toilets or shop fitting rooms. She was also unable to travel in lifts and had to be close to the exit of any room she entered.

After being diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, anxiety and depression, Marie sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a psychological injury due to being trapped in a lift against Square Management Ltd and Pickering Lifts Ltd. In her legal action against the two defendants, Marie claimed that a breach in their duty of care had resulted in her suffering from claustrophobia and panic attacks due to the lift incident.

Liability for Marie´s psychological injury was conceded, but the two defendants disputed how much compensation for a psychological injury due to being trapped in a lift Marie was entitled to. An evaluation of Marie´s condition conducted by a psychiatrist on behalf of the two defendants allegedly found no evident of anxiety at all. Consequently, the case proceeded to the High Court for an assessment of damages, where it was heard by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

At the hearing, Judge Barr was told that, since the incident, Marie has been under the care of a psychologist and has responded well to the cognitive behaviour therapy she has been receiving. The treatment is expected to continue for a further 12 – 18 months. Commenting he was satisfied that Marie had suffered an emotional trauma and the resurfacing of childhood claustrophobia as a direct result of the incident, the judge awarded Marie €25,060 compensation for a psychological injury due to being trapped in a lift.



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