Thursday 22 August 2019

€3.5m for binman who suffered brain injury as he fell from waste van

Benjamin Heffernan. Photo: CourtPix
Benjamin Heffernan. Photo: CourtPix

Tim Healy

A binman who suffered a severe brain injury after he was propelled from a waste disposal van on to a road has settled his High Court action for €3.5m.

Benjamin Heffernan fell through the side door of the van fractured his skull in the fall and suffered a brain injury, the court heard.

Mr Heffernan was travelling in a van belonging to Killarney Waste Disposal delivering compost bins to households in the Durrus area of Bantry, Co Cork, when the accident happened on January 12, 2015.

Mr Heffernan lost consciousness and was taken by emergency services to nearby Dunmanway where he was airlifted to Cork University Hospital.

There he underwent an emergency craniotomy and was later transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin where he remained until August 2015.

The 50-year-old man, his counsel Liam Reidy said, will not be able to work again though he now has a degree of mobility. Mr Heffernan, Friary Downs, Park Road, Killarney, Co Kerry, had sued his employer, Killarney Waste Disposal of Aughacureen, Killarney, and its driver of the van, Mike Brosnan, Chestnut Drive, Killarney, Kerry, as a result of the accident.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to have adequate safety devices such as harnesses or otherwise to ensure Mr Heffernan was not thrown from the vehicle.

There was also an alleged failure to ensure he had a seat belt and that he was provided with a helmet.

It was further claimed Mr Heffernan was allegedly caused or permitted to work at an excessive pressure or at an excessive speed.

There was also an alleged failure to ensure there was a handle on the inside of the van door. The claims were denied.

It was contended by the defence that Mr Heffernan had allegedly directed Mr Brosnan to drive the van and he had got in the back of the van.

It was further claimed Mr Heffernan had failed to ensure the van was decommissioned when he allegedly was aware of a defect in the latch of the van door.

These claims were denied by Mr Heffernan.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross wished Mr Heffernan and his family all the best for the future.

Outside court, his solicitor Amy Connolly, of Cantillons, said Mr Heffernan had spent 33 weeks in hospital following the accident having suffered life changing injuries.

"This settlement will provide for the ongoing care of Mr Heffernan, but no money can ever truly compensate him for the effect his injuries have had on his day to day life," she said.

Irish Independent

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