United Kingdom

Mother, 53, sues housing association for £150,000 after losing eye 

A mother who lost an eye when she fell into a bush and speared it on a twig on the way home from a party is now suing for £150,000 compensation.

Terrie Scales, 53, says she tripped on large stones which were strewn around the driveway leading to her Croydon home in July 2015.

She fell forward, landing in the bushes, with a sharp branch penetrating her left eye, which then had to be removed.

Mrs Scales, a bureau de change cashier, is now suing landlord Hillcrest Homes (UK) Ltd for six-figure compensation at Central London County Court. She said that the drive was uneven and 'unsafe' and that she had complained eight or nine times, but nothing was done.

However, the housing association denies any blame and says the fall was just an unfortunate accident.

It also claimed that medical records suggested she might have been drinking - though Mrs Scales vehemently denied having any alcohol that night. 

Terrie Scales, 53 (left after the accident and right before), lost her eye after she tripped on large stones which were strewn around the driveway leading to her Croydon home in July 2015 and landed on a twig

Outlining her claim, Mrs Scales' barrister Colin Mendoza told the court she had been chaperoning a teenage party at a neighbour's house before the accident happened.

On her way back to her home in The Glade, she tripped on a large stone and fell into bushes on the side of the drive, which ran past a neighbour's house to her own.

Giving evidence, Mrs Scales said the path was dangerous.

'Obviously it is dangerous, because I have lost an eye for it,' she told Judge Heather Baucher, breaking down in the witness box.

'You can't say it's not unsafe. I have lost my eye. It should have never been like that.'

Mrs Scales, who was with her ten-year-old daughter at the time, said she had been left in agony and was sick due to the shock of the incident.

She was rushed to hospital for treatment but despite several operations, the contents of her left eye had to be removed.

'The claimant has therefore been left only with her right eye, which was uninjured in the accident,' Mr Mendoza told the judge.

He said Mrs Scales now struggles with making food and drinks, and with seeing steps and other obstacles.

In the months after the fall, she relied heavily on her mother for help at home, he added.

Mrs Scales is suing under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, claiming the housing association breached its duty to ensure the driveway was in a reasonable condition.

She had complained numerous times about the poor surface and the lack of lighting, Mr Mendoza said.

She fell forward, landing in the bushes, with a sharp branch penetrating her left eye, which then had to be removed

'She referred to how the uneven driveway can be difficult to even drive down without causing damage to vehicles, let alone physical injury,' he continued.

He added: 'Here the defendant ought in the circumstances to have known of the relevant defects.

'The very uneven path was well known...The condition in the past had been notified.

'Works had recently been undertaken on the driveway. It is not right to say the drive had been left sound...and was simply awaiting a top dressing of gravel.

'If it had been left sound, the tripping accident would not on the balance of probabilities have happened.

'Instead, it remained very uneven with tripping hazards on it in the form of large stones and potholes.'

For Hillcrest, barrister Lee Evans denied that the path was defective and in need of repair, arguing that 'reasonable care' had been taken to make it safe.

Mrs Scales had contributed to her accident herself in that she had failed to step over any stones which were on the ground, he claimed. 

Cross-examining her, he suggested that the path was not unsafe and that she had just been unlucky to fall.

'Accidents can happen, someone can fall and have a very unfortunate injury for something that is not unsafe,' he said.

She had also contributed to the fall by failing to step over any stones which were on the ground, he continued.

He also questioned whether she had really complained about the driveway in the past, pointing out the lack of evidence of messages having been sent.

He put to her: 'You did not before your accident make any complaints about the condition of your driveway.'

Mrs Scales replied: 'Yes, I did.' Evidence of her complaints was missing because it was lost when she changed her mobile phone, she said.

The hearing continues. 

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