Sunday 22 September 2019

Tram-surfing girl who suffered brain injury defends €550,000 settlement

New mother accepts accident in 2010 was her fault but hits out at 'haters' critical of payment

Injuries: Rebecca Kelly, from Pearse Street in Dublin, at court. Photo: Collins
Injuries: Rebecca Kelly, from Pearse Street in Dublin, at court. Photo: Collins

Tim Healy and Robin Schiller

A woman awarded €550,000 after falling off a Luas while 'tram-surfing' has hit back at people criticising the compensation payout saying "haters will be haters".

Rebecca Kelly was yesterday awarded the sum at the High Court for the accident that happened when she was 13-years-old.

Ms Kelly and a friend jumped on the outside of a Luas tram gripping on to the edge of the doors as it departed the Fatima station on the Red Line eight years ago.

The then-teenager, who recently gave birth to her first child, fell back on to the tracks striking her head and had to be rescued by her friend.

The friend, along with the help of others, pulled Rebecca out of the way of an oncoming Luas tram en route to the city centre.

Coverage of the compensation hearing attracted hundreds of comments online with many criticising the high payout to Ms Kelly, who accepted the accident was her fault.

The mother of one took to social media last night in a foul-mouthed rant to hit back at the negative commentary.

Responding to a friend who suggested she take down her social media account, Ms Kelly wrote: "I know where use are all coming from but I'm not f***ing hiding me b****x will anybody bad mouth me or my child f*** them all haters will be haters."

Her counsel, Bruce Antoniotti SC, told the High Court the young woman who became a mother just two weeks ago accepted the accident was her fault and she acknowledged she should not have been tram surfing and she knew at the time it was a dangerous activity. Counsel said Ms Kelly did not want to blame the driver .

Ms Kelly (20), of Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin, had through her mother Elizabeth Kelly sued the Luas operators Veolia Transport Dublin Light Rail Ltd and Veolia Transport Ireland Ltd of St John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin as a result of the accident on September 3, 2010.

She claimed there was an alleged failure to have any or any adequate visual systems employed and activated on the tram and that the driver was unable in the circumstances to see the non-platform side of the tram before leaving the station.

It was claimed the tram pulled off from the station without first observing the non-platform side of the tram.

All the claims were denied and Veolia contended there was contributory negligence on the part of the young girl as she had allegedly exposed herself to the risk of injury by tram surfing with a total disregard for her own safety.

Mr Antoniotti SC told the court it was a tragic case. He said Rebecca was with a group of friends at the Fatima Luas stop on the Red Line on the inbound platform at 9.15pm.

Counsel said tram surfing was where young people jumped on to the side door where there was a small ledge and they put their fingers between the door and the body of the tram and "held on for dear life".

He said there were 54 incidents of tram surfing recorded on the trams between 2005 and 2010, but the placing of metal strips to prevent gripping between the door and the body of the train had helped deter the practice.

Rebecca had jumped on to the side of a Tallaght-bound tram. Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross said it was not necessary for the court to tell Ms Kelly she did a silly thing as she knew that.

However, he commended her for her honesty.

Read more: Girl who sustained severe brain injury while 'tram-surfing' on Luas settles €550k High Court action

Irish Independent

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