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Man struck by Luas awarded €650,000 by High Court

A MAN who sustained serious injuries when he was struck by a tram as he crossed a Luas line has settled his High Court damages action for €650,000.

Derek Cross (52) suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple rib fractures as well as damage to the left side of his body when he was hit on the left side by a Luas tram travelling between Kylemore and the Red Cow stop on the red line five years ago. He now walks with a crutch and is unable to work.

The High Court heard that Mr Cross, who had been drinking, had a very high level of alcohol in his blood when he made his way across the tracks at the Red Cow Hotel on his way to get a taxi home in the early hours of September 15, 2007.

Mr Cross, a painter and decorator from Old Church Close, Nangor Road, Clondalkin had sued South Dublin County Council, and the operators of the Luas tram line, the Railway Procurment Agency, Veolia Transport and Connex Transport as a result of the accident.

He claimed the defendants had failed to design, construct or provide a safe layout of Luas line or track with appropriate signage and safe access for pedestrians. He further claimed that they failed to take reasonable steps or precautions for Mr Cross who was lawfully crossing the line and as a result he was allegedly exposed to a risk of damage or injury.

The claims were denied by the defendants who alleged contributory negligence on Mr Cross's behalf due to the amount of drink he had consumed on the night.

Approving the settlement, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it was an exceptionally good offer in settlement of the case. If the case went to trial there was a risk of losing as the court would be looking at an emergency situation and a person who had a significant amount of alcohol consumed.

The judge said we have to take in to account the reality of everyday life for a Luas driver and to expect them to apply the emergency brakes every time they see someone on the line would create more accidents.

Counsel for Mr Cross, Bruce Antoniotti SC told the court that the day of the accident Mr Cross had been on a golf outing where he had two drinks. That night he went to Bluebell United Football Club and stayed there until 1.30am

Counsel said Mr Cross had been drinking during that time and the alcohol level in his blood was very high. He left the football club and went to the Naas dual carriageway and intended to cross over to the taxi rank at the Red Cow Hotel.

Counsel said he negotiated the in bound Naas dual carriageway but as he crossed the Luas tracks, he was struck by a tram.

The driver of the tram, Counsel said accepted he saw Mr Cross on the tracks and he applied the emergency braking system. He said it was Mr Cross's case that had the driver applied the emergency brakes two seconds sooner the accident would not have occurred.

Counsel said he did not think a judge would hold a driver when he sees a pedesterian on the tracks has to apply the emergency brakes. If this were the case, Counsel said trams all over the city would be stopping all the time.

He said there was also a significant level of contributory negligence in the case as Mr Cross had drink taken.

Counsel said the driver of the tram in this case was very experienced and was very shaken himself after the accident.