A 37-year-old delivery man, who was injured while he was being taken to hospital in an ambulance after falling off his mountain bike, has been awarded €27,700 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.
The court heard today that Stephen Burns suffered neck and back soft tissue injuries after the spinal board he was lying on allegedly slid away when the ambulance braked suddenly in March 2012.
Mr Burns said he had been cycling down a hill on his bike in the Bray area, when he fell head first and hit a rock and temporarily lost consciousness.
He had been bleeding and his right eye had swollen. He had managed to walk down the hill, carrying his bike, and had met a woman who called the ambulance.
Mr Burns, of the Pines, Ashbury Park, Sidmonton Road, Bray, Co Wicklow, said he had felt no pain in his neck and back when the ambulance arrived.
He told Judge Alan Mahon that he stepped into the ambulance and after an assessment of his injuries by the paramedics, was placed on a stretcher bed and his head was isolated by head blocks.
He claimed he was not wearing a neck collar when, on the way to St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, the ambulance was caused to stop suddenly to avoid a collision with an unidentified driver.
The court heard Mr Burns was thrown forward and his head hit a partition in the ambulance. He said there was “stuff all over the place in the back of the ambulance.”
Burns alleged one side of the head block straps had become loose and he had seen that one of the paramedics had been knocked to the floor.
Two other ambulances arrived and he was taken to St Vincent’s hospital, where he was detained overnight.
Burns sued the HSE and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland. The court was told some liability had been agreed and the case had been reduced to an assessment of the damages only.
Counsel for the HSE said Mr Burns, “unlike F1 driver Michael Schumacher who is in coma, had been very lucky.” The HSE alleged Mr Burns was not wearing a cycling helmet when he hit the rock.
Judge Mahon, assessing damages, said the stop had been very violent and had caused Mr Burns’ injuries. Awarding him €27,700 damages, he said he was satisfied that the accident had been in no way caused by the ambulance driver.