Wednesday 26 September 2018

Bin man 'propelled from waste disposal van' awarded €3.5m

  • Benjamin Heffernan (50) suffered serious brain injury in fall from van
  • Settles High Court action for €3.5m
Benjamin Heffernan of Killarney, Co. Kerry leaving the High Court in Dublin (Pic: CourtPix)
Benjamin Heffernan of Killarney, Co. Kerry leaving the High Court in Dublin (Pic: CourtPix)
Cork University Hospital Photo: Geograph.ie

Tim Healy

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

Benjamin Heffernan who fell through the side door of the van fractured his skull in the fall and suffered a brain injury, his counsel Liam Reidy SC told the High Court.

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 in January 2015.

Mr Heffernan, on hitting the road, lost consciousness and was taken by emergency services to nearby Dunmanaway where he was airlifted to Cork University Hospital. In hospital he underwent an emergency craniotomy and was later transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital,Dublin where he remained until August 2015.

The 50-year-old man, counsel said will not be able to work again though he now has a degree of mobility.

Benjamin Heffernan, Friary Downs, Park Road , Killarney, Co Kerry had sued his employer Killarney Waste Disposal, Aughacureen, Killarney, Co Kerry, the owner of the refuse vehicle and its driver Mike Brosnan, Chestnut Drive, Killarney, Kerry as a result of the accident on January 12, 2015 at Durrus, Co Cork.

It was claimed that Mr Heffernan was propelled from the refuse vehicle and lost consciousness. He was taken to nearby Dunmanway and was airlifted to Cork University Hospital where he was intubated and ventilated.

He claimed there was an alleged failure to to have any or any adequate safety devices such as harnesses or otherwise to ensure Mr Heffernan was not thrown from the vehicle and there was an alleged failure to ensure he had a seatbelt and 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 and there was an alleged failure to ensure there was a handle on the inside of the van door.

The claims were denied and it was contended 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 said it was a good one and he wished Mr Heffernan and his family all the best for the future.

Outside court solicitor Amy Connolly of Cantillons Solicitors 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.

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