17 October, 2019
An employee has lost her claim for personal injury after the Judge concluded that the automatic doors to the supermarket were not faulty.
The Claimant was employed by the Defendant supermarket. On the day of the incident, she had entered the supermarket through the main foyer. She was walking briskly as it was raining. She claimed that as she approached the double automatic doors she glanced towards a group of customers. She said that she expected the doors to open but they did not. She walked straight into the middle frames of the two doors hitting her head. The force of the impact knocked her backwards and she sustained a personal injury.
The Claimant alleged that the Defendant had acted negligently and had failed to maintain the doors. It was the Defendant's case that the doors were not faulty. The doors worked by way of a sensor, the frames of each door were white and there was a white sign on each door stating that they were automatic doors. There was no record of any previous complaints. The Store Manager gave evidence confirming that he had no knowledge of any problem with the automatic doors either prior or following the incident. As part of his regular daily walk of the store, he would pass through the doors and he had never noticed a problem.
When an engineer attended following the accident, he found the doors to be operating correctly. He gave evidence at the trial and explained that if someone approached the doors at speed then the front sensor may not have time to send the message to the control panel to open. He reiterated that if the sensor was faulty then the failsafe system would have kept the doors open.
Having considered the evidence, the Judge concluded that the evidence did not support a finding that the doors were faulty or a risk to health and safety. Although, it was not necessary for the Judge to make a finding as to the cause of the accident, he noted that he would have found that it was more likely than not that the Claimant tripped as a result of hurrying. She had approached the doors at a speed, which did not allow them time to open before hitting them.
The claim was dismissed.
The Defendant's witness evidence was extremely persuasive, especially that of the engineer who found the doors to be operating normally following the accident. The Defendant had an established written procedure in place for reporting defects in equipment and there had been no previous complaints or reported problems with the automatic doors. The evidence therefore did not support a finding that the doors were faulty or a risk to health and safety.