Student awarded €3.7m after tree falls on his car

Julian Karra

By Tim Healy

A 23-YEAR old student was left brain damaged and blind in one eye after a tree fell on his car.

Yesterday, Julian Karra settled his High Court action for €3.7m.

Mr Karra, the court heard, is also partly sighted in the other eye arising out of the accident which occurred as he was driving home from college on the night of February 4, 2010.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved a settlement of €3.175m against a land owner bordering the road where the accident happened and a further settlement of €600,000 against Wicklow County Council over emergency rescue equipment available on the night.

Richard McDonnell SC told the court it was a "most unfortunate case."

He said Mr Karra, who was 19 years old at the time, was driving on the Rathdrum to Glenealy Road in Co Wicklow when, near Deputy's Pass, a tree fell on to the road crushing his car.

He was trapped for almost two hours while emergency services and firemen lifted the tree from the car.

Mr Karra, Ballygannon Woods, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, sued landowner Nigel Kelly, Drumdangan, Rathdrum, whose lands bordered the road, and the county council.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to properly maintain, prune or lop the tree so as to ensure it did not become top heavy or dangerous so as to prevent it from toppling over.


It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to take necessary precautions or adequate care of trees within close proximity of a public road so as to ensure it did not represent a serious and ongoing danger to the passing public.

It was claimed Wicklow County Council allegedly failed to adopt appropriate rescue attempts and measures by its alleged failure to have and use proper and/or necessary tree-cutting equipment including chainsaws.

There was also an alleged failure to provide proper training for the emergency services in the use of chain saws and other tree-cutting equipment.

Mr Kelly and Wicklow County Council denied all claims.

Mr Karra was a multi-media student at the time, but it is not likely he will be able to ever work, his counsel said.

The tree was one of a number on a slop. An expert would say the tree falling was caused not by wind but root rot.

"Julian was blameless but there were hurdles to be crossed in the case," counsel added.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross said he wanted to wish Julian all the best for the future.

He noted the young man had got great support from his parents and said he was always impressed at the way parents "rallied around" in cases such as this.

Julian's parents, he said, had "been extraordinary" in the care of their son.