Iceland to pay 73-year-old woman £11k damages after trip on ramp outside Edinburgh shop left her with broken bones

A 73-year-old woman will receive more than £11,000 in damages after she tripped over a ramp outside an Iceland store in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 5:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 5:27 pm

Yvonne Forrest, a retired civil servant, suffered a broken right wrist and left knee after falling as she walked to the store at Piersfield Terrace, Portobello Road in February 2019. Although the injuries required surgery and healed well, the woman now has post traumatic arthritis which has resulted in stiffness and pain.

In evidence, the woman said she did not see the ramp because she may have been looking at advertising posters in the shop window or looking straight ahead. She said she tripped on the rising edge of the ramp at a point near to where it started to incline from the car park.

Lawyers for Iceland Foods Limited argued they had not received any reports of other customers tripping over the ramp in the past five years and were not at fault, and suggested the court should find she was “not paying due care and attention.”

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The ramp outside of the Iceland store near Portobello Road. Pic: SCTS

But Sheriff Christoper Dickson said: “Whilst I accepted that there was a lack of history of any accidents at the ramp in the last five years, that did not mean that nobody had tripped over the rising edge in the last five years.”

Sheriff Dickson determined that the similarity in colour between the ramp and the majority of the rest of the car park made it difficult to see the rising edge, particularly at the lower part, and that the edge was not painted or marked and did not have any form of barrier, wall or handrail along it. He also said that the windows of the shop contained advertising posters that “had the potential to distract” a customer approaching the ramp.

A chartered designer engineer with 43 years of experience - including designing ramps for buildings - also gave evidence in support of Mrs Forrest. Gordon Morris said the lack of a bright edge or barrier along the ramp was exacerbated by the distraction of the bold and bright window display in the shop. He suggested even a low cost option to paint the rising edge yellow and black would have been a way to minimise risk.

The sheriff reduced the amount awarded to Mrs Forrest by 25 percent because in either scenario - be it looking ahead or at the advertising - she was “not looking where she was walking when she tripped.” He also took into account that she had previously safely negotiated the ramp on two occasions. Damages were reduced from £15,000 to £11,250 for those reasons.

The sheriff’s report also stated that Mrs Forrest initially declined the offer to call an ambulance - instead asking for her husband to be called - after the store manager came out to help her and provide first aid. She subsequently requested an ambulance.

The report notes that when the woman’s husband arrived and walked over from his car, he said to the store manager something like “what has she done now?”

The Iceland store in Piersfield Terrace closed to customers at the beginning of August last year to focus on picking items for online orders.

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