The Law and You: Statute of limitations on making a claim

The Law and You: Statute of limitations on making a claim

Two years ago, while attending a wedding, I fell down a flight of stairs in the hotel where the reception was on. My fall was caused by another guest, completely by accident. I was coming down the steps, and she was in front of me, she began to fall and grabbed me to steady herself and pulled me down the stairs. I suffered a bad break to my ankle and I have had to have a number of surgeries since then.

My ankle is now as good as it is going to get. I am now completely dependent upon using two crutches if I have to walk long distances. I have had to give up my job. My injuries have been life-changing. I just don’t know if I have a case against the hotel and I would like your advice. The steps I tripped on were dimly lit and there was no handrail. If there had been, the guest might not have tripped and my accident would have been avoided.         

Sorry to hear of the difficult time that you have had. I am concerned about the law that provides that actions must be commenced within certain time limits.

The law is known as Statute of Limitations. In personal injuries claims here in Ireland, proceedings must be issued within two years from the date of the accident/injury. If they are not issued within that two-year period, then any case you may have will become what is known as statute barred and thus you will be precluded by law from bringing one. 

You don’t say when exactly your fall occurred so I would advise you to consult with a solicitor immediately in this regard. If it is outside the two-year period you may well be too late.  If your claim is not out of time, he or she will advise you of the steps that now need to be taken in order to investigate your case, to include I suspect arranging for an engineering inspection of the hotel premises and specifically the locus of the fall.

In short, if you can show that the absence of lighting and/ or the handrail contributed to your and /or the other guest’s fall then you may well (subject to being within time) be entitled to successfully claim.

*Karen Kearney is a Partner in Cantillons Solicitors of 38/39 South Mall, Cork an award-winning law firm practising in all areas of litigation. Since the firm was founded in 1980, they have been involved in precedent making cases, amongst them Best V. Wellcome, Louise O’ Keeffe v. Ireland and most recently Costello V. HSE, a medical negligence claim in which they achieved damages of €17.8 million, the highest ever award in Irish personal injury litigation to date. Cantillons Solicitors received the award of Munster Law Firm of the Year (Over 5 Solicitors) at the AIB Irish Law Awards 2016.

*This weekly column is a readers’ service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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