Compensation for Construction Worker Injured in Explosion at Work

Compensation for a construction worker, injured in an explosion at work when a digger´s radiator exploded, has been awarded in the High Court.

Pawel Ciawlowski (32) from Navan in County Meath sustained burns to 14 percent of his body when the radiator of a nearby digger – which had previously been reported as overheating – exploded, showering him with hot water and scalding steam.

Following the accident – which happened outside a shop in the Cavan Road in Kells – Pawel was taken to a nearby hospital in Navan with burns to his chest, abdomen, face and arms, before being transferred to the burns unit at St James Hospital in Dublin.

Pawel was in St James Hospital for several days and his wounds required dressing for several months after the August 2012 accident. During his recovery, he was unable to work, take a planned holiday to Spain or attend the gym.

After seeking legal advice about making a claim for a construction worker injured in an explosion at work, Pawel sued his employers – Emdan Developments Ltd of Bective Street Kells – claiming that they had been negligent in knowingly exposing him to a risk of injury and failing to heed warnings about the overheating digger.

At the High Court, Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill heard that Pawel had made a good recovery since his burns at work accident last August, but had been left with a significant and unsightly scar on his chest which had to be covered in the sun because of the high risk of burning.

The judge also heard that Emdan Developments Ltd were in liquidation and had not contested the claim for compensation by the construction worker in an explosion at work. Consequently the case was before him for the assessment of damages only.

Stating that Pawel had suffered a “nasty injury”, Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill awarded him €49,757 in compensation for the digger accident, which included both general damages for the burns at work Pawel had sustained and the loss of amenity caused by his construction worker accident.


Plumber Awarded Compensation for Broken Ankle at Work

A plumber, who broke his ankle after tripping over a stray wire at the Dun Loaghaire Golf Club, has been awarded €6,750 in compensation for a broken ankle at work in the Circuit Civil Court.

Barry McGrath from Fingals in Dublin had just finished working at the golf course in May 2010, when he tripped and fell over a stray wire as he went to leave the premises. Barry was taken to the now closed VHI Swiftcare Clinic at Dublin City University, where x-rays revealed a broken left ankle.

Unable to work because of his injury, Barry made a compensation claim for tripping over a wire at work against Cosgraves Developments, the mangers of the site. Cosgraves Developments denied liability; stating the wire was bright blue and easily noticeable.

However, at the Circuit Civil Court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke found in Barry´s favour, stating that the wire should never have been there and awarded the plumber €6,750 in compensation for a broken ankle at work.


NCRI Report: Women Suffering from Mesothelioma Cancer

The incidence of women suffering from mesothelioma cancer has remained constant – despite an increasing trend in asbestos related cancer – according to a report by the National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI).

The NCRI report – “Cancer Trends – Mesothelioma” – reveals that the incidence of women suffering from mesothelioma cancer did not increase between 1994 and 2010, despite a 100 percent increase in the diagnosis of asbestos related cancer during the same period.

On average, four women each year die from mesothelioma cancer due to fibres brought home by their tradesmen husbands on clothes, and the report claims that secondary exposure to asbestos is more probable in women who are less likely to have direct work-related exposure.

The report goes on to say that 90 percent of women suffering from mesothelioma cancer are, or have been, married compared to 77 percent of all female cancer patients, and – somewhat alarmingly – that 18 percent of women suffering from mesothelioma cancer are diagnosed while under fifty years of age, compared to just 3 percent for men.

Asbestos was mostly used in industry in Ireland from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. It was banned from use in the construction and shipbuilding industries between 1194 and 1998, and a general prohibition on its use was introduced in 2004 under EU legislation.

There is a very poor prognosis for women suffering from mesothelioma cancer. Patients diagnosed between 1994 and 2009 had just a 4.5 percent chance in surviving more than five years, and overall 71 percent of patients are known to have died within one year of being diagnosed.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) warned that although asbestos is now banned, products or materials containing asbestos still exist. The Authority said that units containing asbestos which are already installed or in service can remain in place until they are safely disposed of or reach the end of their service life.


Hotel Staff Injury Claim Heard in High Court

A former waiter at the Slieve Russell Hotel has been giving evidence at the High Court in support of his hotel staff injury claim for compensation.

 Robert Miloch, from Ballyconnell, County Cavan, made his claim for hotel staff injury compensation against the Slieve Russell Hotel and its parent company – Quinn Hotels Limited – due to sustaining a back injury while loading trays onto a trolley in April 2010.

The High Court heard that while he was squatting down to replace breakfast trays on a trolley, Mr Miloch heard a crack in his back and suffered a pain from his back going down to his leg. The pain prevented him from walking and he was told by the hotel to go home and see his doctor.

In support of his hotel staff injury claim, Mr Miloch showed the court an MRI scan from the time of the accident, revealing that two discs in his back had crushed a nerve. His injury, he claimed, had resulted in his doctor advising him not to return to work and despite extensive physiotherapy had not improved.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan was told that both the defendants denied their liability for Mr Miloch´s injury and claimed not only that a car accident in which Mr Miloch was involved in later that year could have been responsible for his back injury, but that the injury had been described as “paradoxical” by Mr Miloch´s doctor as his patient could move in one direction but not another.

The case will continue at the High Court.


Slips, Trips and Falls Most Common Work Injury Claims in Ireland

Figures from the Injuries Board, released to coincide with “World Day for Health and Safety at Work” have revealed that slips, trips and falls are among the most common reasons for work injury claims in Ireland.

Along with injuries sustained due to defective equipment and poor manual handling of goods, slips trips and falls in the workplace – especially in the manufacturing and production sectors – contributed substantially towards the total of 22,500,000 Euros assessed by the Injuries Board throughout 2011 in relation to work injury claims in Ireland.

Although the total value of work injury claims in Ireland decreased significantly from 2010, InjuriesBoard.ie chief executive Patricia Byron was quick to dismiss claims that workplace health and safety in Ireland was improving by comparing work injury claims in Ireland with a smaller work force.

“While our figures point to a downward trend in the number of claims for workplace accidents,” she said “the main driver for this is a contracting workforce rather than any notable advances in workplace health and safety programmes. We understand that businesses today are under constant pressure to drive efficiencies, often operating with scarce resources, but cutting corners on employee safety is a cut too far. We are continually surprised by the volume of such foreseeable and preventable claims.”


UK Ruling Will Allow Claims for Asbestos Related Diseases

A UK Supreme Court ruling has made it possible for workers formerly employed in the UK construction industry to make claims for asbestos related diseases.

Victims of asbestos related diseases, and the families of workers who have died from asbestos related diseases, have been given the right to claim back-dated compensation under a landmark ruling handed down from the UK Supreme Court this week.

The court ruled that insurance liability applied at the time an employee was exposed to asbestos, rather than when the symptoms of an illness were diagnosed, and that relatives of workers who subsequently died due to a lack of protection can make claims for asbestos related diseases on insurance policies dating back to the 1940s.

Lord Clarke – one of the Supreme Court judges that delivered the verdict – said “The negligent exposure of an employee to asbestos during the [insurance] policy period has a sufficient causal link with subsequently arising mesothelioma to trigger the insurer’s obligation.”

For many workers who were employed in the UK prior to the banning of asbestos products in 2004, this ruling means that they will be able to claim compensation from their former employer´s insurance company. It also means that families who lost loved ones due to mesothelioma cancer or asbestosis can make retrospective compensation claims for asbestos related diseases.

The ruling was welcome by the union Unite, who brought the legal action on behalf of the family of one of their former members – Charles O´Farrell – who died from mesothelioma cancer in 2003. A spokesperson said that the ruling will affect many of the 2,500 people who are diagnosed with asbestos related diseases each year.

Nick Starling – director of general insurance and health at the Association of British Insurers – was also happy that the “confusion and uncertainty” about claims for asbestos related diseases had come to an end. He said: “The ABI and our members are committed to paying compensation as quickly as possible to people with mesothelioma who have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace”.


Injuries Board Assessments Increase in 2011

The annual report from the Injuries Board Ireland has revealed a 12 per cent increase in the value of Injuries Board assessments from 186 million Euros in 2010 to 210 million Euros in 2011.

The statistics are only for personal injury claims that have been assessed through the Injuries Board, and does not include claims that were a settlement was negotiated, or where an award was made in the High Court, or medical negligence claims.

The report from the Injuries Board Ireland does not state how many of their assessments were accepted in 2011 – the average over the past four years has been under 60 per cent – but revealed that only 35 per cent (9,834) of the claims received (27,669) were actually assessed. The vast majority of injury claims in Ireland being resolved by negotiation between the claimant’s solicitors and the insurance companies before Injuries Board assessments were made or declined for assessment.

Road traffic accident claims were once again the primary reason for Injury Board assessments in 2011, accounting for 76.5 per cent of the requests for assessment. As mentioned above, the proportion of claims for injuries at work fell from 11 per cent to 8.4 per cent, while the remainder of the claims received for Injuries Board assessments were comprised of public liability claims (15.1 per cent) for injuries sustained in places of public access (supermarket injury claims, footpath injury claims, school injury claims, etc.).

The Injuries Board Ireland does not assess claims for compensation concerning medical negligence or where full liability is not admitted.


Fall at Work Compensation Awarded to RTE Employee

An employee of RTE, who fell and injured his elbow while trying to unsnag a curtain during a show rehearsal for The Saturday Night Show, has been awarded 18,500 Euros in fall at work compensation at the Circuit Civil Court.

Arthur McMullan (59) of Goatstown, Dublin, was working for the national broadcaster as a props assistant when the accident occurred in the RTE Donnybrook studios in February 2010. Trying to unsnag the stage curtain from a mirror ball, Arthur fell over a studio floor lamp and injured his left elbow.

In his claim for fall at work compensation, Arthur alleged that RTE were aware of the curtain consistently presenting a problem and, in support of his claim, the court was shown a video clip of a broadcast show in which presenter Brendan O´Connor had to hold back the curtains during a performance by doo-wop band The Overtones.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane at the Circuit Civil Court also heard Arthur´s compensation claim for falls at work support by a colleague at the RTE studios, who claimed that the curtains had been an ongoing problem for a number of years. Arthur´s legal representative also advised the judge that Arthur still felt pain in his elbow two years after the injury had been sustained.

After hearing the evidence relating to Arthur´s fall at work compensation claim, Judge Jacqueline Linnane awarded Arthur 18,500 Euros in compensation.


Wrongful Death at Work Compensation Awarded to Family

The family of a man, who was tragically crushed to death between two diggers in a workplace accident, is to receive 550,000 Euros wrongful death at work compensation from the man´s former employers.

Ronan Conway (27) died after leaving the cab of his vehicle to investigate something in the ground in front of where he was working. Unfortunately he had failed to lock the safety lever on the digger before leaving the vehicle and was crushed between his digger and another working on the site.

Following an investigation into the fatal accident of November 2008, Ronan´s fiancée of eight years Anne Marie Morgan (30) of Kilcullen, County Wicklow, claimed wrongful death at work compensation from Ronan´s former employers – OB Hire and Sales Limited – alleging that they were responsible for Ronan´s fatal accident due to allowing him to work in a yard which had “little or no lighting”.

OB Hire and Sales Limited denied the allegations – claiming that Ronan had failed to follow the training he had been given in the operation of the digger and that it was his own negligence which led to his fatal accident.

However, at Dublin High Court, Mr Justice John Quirke heard that the company had made an offer to settle the claim for wrongful death at work compensation which the family were prepared to accept. The total amount of compensation had been reduced to account for Ronan´s contributory negligence and was to be divided between the claimant, Ronan´s parents and siblings, and the children both Ronan and Ms Morgan had from their previous relationships.


Work Back Injury Compensation Awarded to Former Ryanair Employee

A former Ryanair baggage handler has been awarded €45,000 compensation for a work back injury.  Damian Warcaba of Malahide, County Dublin, was injured in an incident at Dublin Airport on July 17th, 2007, while moving aircraft stairs unassisted.  Mr Warcaba was brought to to Beaumont Hospital and was out of work for two months.

The standard operating procedure requires two people to manoeuvre aircraft stairs manually for about three metres to rest against an aircraft. Ryanair contested the case, saying that it provided standard training to employees and regretted that the standard operating procedures where not adhered to in practice. Ryanair pointed out that Mr Warcarba had breached the standard operating procedures and was therefore solely responsible for his work back injury.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton ruled in the High Court that Ryanair did not provide sufficient workers to ensure the correct operating procedures were followed.


350,000 Euros Compensation Awarded for Fatal Forklift Accident

The family of a Lithuanian man, who was crushed to death by a forklift while working in a lighting store in County Wexford, has been awarded 349,600 Euros for his wrongful death in the High Court.

Rimydas Valteras of New Ross, County Wexford, was employed at Harte Designs of Adamstown, County Wexford when, in April 2006 he the fatal accident occurred. Rimydas had been standing on a forklift operated by fellow employee Emmet Delany, when it crashed into shelving causing him to sustain fatal crush injuries which resulted in his death.

Mr Justice John Quirke heard at the High Court that the accident occurred just two weeks after Rimydas´ wife, Rasa, had purchased tickets for herself and their two young children to fly to Ireland to establish a new life together, and that the two defendants – Emmet Delany and Harte Designs – both accepted liability in Rasa´s forklift accident claim for compensation.

Calculating that Rimydas would have earned between 400.00 and 500.00 Euros per week had his employment continued, Mr Justice John Quirke awarded Rasa and her family the sum of 325,000 Euros with an additional 24,600 Euros to compensate for the mental distress she had suffered.


Garda Office Awarded 22,650 Euros for Shoulder Injury

A Garda office, who sustained a shoulder injury during baton training, has been awarded personal injury compensation of 22,600 Euros in the Circuit Civil Court.

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Matthew Deery, heard that Detective Garda Darragh O´Toole (41) had been part of a group taking part in baton training at the Mount Pleasant Tennis Club in Dublin in October 2008, when the injury occurred.

Detective Garda O´Toole was in a staged fight scenario with an instructor, when the instructor put his left arm in a lock and forced him back against a wall. Mr Justice Matthew Deery was then told how the instructor had continued pressing forward while Detective Garda O´Toole was pinned back – dislocating the Garda´s shoulder through the back of the joint. The injury was so severe that Detective Garda O´Toole was off from work for 14 weeks.

Having sought legal advice, Detective Garda O´Toole brought a personal injury claim for compensation against the instructor and the Minister for Justice, claiming that he still suffered pain and discomfort, and that the injury had prevented him from playing as a senior footballer for  Erin’s Isle GAA club in Finglas, Dublin.

Having rejected evidence from the defence which was contradicted by the medical evidence, Mr Justice Matthew Deery awarded the detective 22,650 Euros in damages against the Minister for Justice, commenting that the instructor should have eased off when Detective Garda O´Toole had been backed up against the wall.



Postal Worker Awarded 16,000 Euros for Avoidable Toe Injury

A postal worker, who damaged the big toe on his right foot when a package of floorboards fell onto it, has won his claim for injuries at work at the Circuit Court in Dublin.

Edward Pyne (61) of Balbriggan, County Dublin, brought his claim against An Post after the accident in November 2006 left him needing several operations for an ingrown toenail which had resulted from the injury. He also claimed that he had suffered from several infections which had developed in the injured toe.

Circuit Court president, Mr Justice Matthew Deery heard how An Post should have supplied steel toe-capped boots as part of a postal worker´s uniform, but Edward had long worn out the pair that had been most recently given to him three years previously. Consequently the shoes he was wearing on the day of the accident offered insufficient protection against such an accident happening.

An Post denied liability for Edward´s claim, but Mr Matthew Deery heard evidence that many of Edward´s colleagues at the Balbriggan Post Office also failed to wear the obligatory steel toe-capped footwear, and had An Post provided better supervision of their staff, the accident could have been avoided.

Upholding Edward´s claim for injuries at work, Mr Justice Matthew Deery stated that he was satisfied that An Post had failed to provide adequate protective footwear for their staff, and awarded Edward 16,000 Euros in personal injury compensation.


“Unplanned” Sick Days Cost Industry 1.5 Billion Euros

A report published this week by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) has revealed that absenteeism is costing the country 1.5 billion Euros each year in lost productivity.

The findings were based on a survey conducted in 2010 in which absenteeism levels in 2009 were examined across 635 companies employing a total of 110,000 people.  It was estimated in the report that 11 million working days were lost annually due to “unplanned” sick days although the report gave no indication of how many of these were due to accidents in the workplace and work illnesses.

Defining absenteeism as an “unscheduled disruption of the work process due to days lost as a result of sickness or any other cause not excused through statutory entitlements or company approval”, the report revealed that high-pressure rewards driven call centres recorded the highest absence rate (3.67%), while software companies had the lowest rates of absenteeism (1.56%). It also cited the main reason given for absence from work was minor illnesses.

However, the figures are much higher than those issued each year by the Health Safety Authority (HSA) in their annual “Summary of Workplace Injury” which, although a more accurate reflection of occupational health in Ireland (the IBEC conclusions were drawn by studying less than one half of one per cent of the workforce), are reliant on employers reporting work injury and illnesses of four or more days to the HSA.

The wide difference between the HSA figures and those estimated by IBEC could be due to an employer´s reluctance to report injuries and illness caused by their negligence. Although claims for injuries at work are declining in the farming and construction industries, those related to falls at work and repetitive strain injuries are on the increase, and if an employer reports injuries which are due to his breach of health and safety regulations, he could be inviting a visit from HSA investigators.

The publication of the report also coincides with a similar Health and Safety Executive release in the UK, which estimated that 560,000 employees in England and Wales took a total of 13.4 million days off last year due to stress in the workplace. Proportionately, it would appear that the situation is far worse in the Republic.


Multi-Million Euro Settlement in Parrot Infection Case

A 22 year old woman, who contracted a rare disease while working in a Limerick pet shop, has been awarded what is believed to be the highest ever structured compensation settlement in a High Court personal injuries action.

Patricia Ingle from Weston, County Limerick, worked throughout 2007 and 2008 at the Petmania Pet Store in the Jetlands Retail Park, County Limerick. In August 2008, she fell ill with violent headaches and vomiting, was attended by a doctor and sent to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle.

Doctors at the hospital treated Patricia and sent her home, but a few weeks later the symptoms returned and she was again sent to hospital by her GP. Within two days, Patricia´s condition had deteriorated to such an extent that she was technically voiceless, had difficulty swallowing, suffered from blurred vision and could not move.

Patricia had suffered irreversible brain damage and can now only breathe through a ventilator, has to be fed via a tube and can only communicate by using a voice-box. She is confined to a wheelchair and is an inpatient each night at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital.

Claiming that she had contracted the chlamydia psittacosis infection from a cockatiel parrot purchased by the pet store, Patricia sued Petmania and their parent company O’Keeffes of Kilkenny Limited, Springhill, County Kilkenny. She also alleged that her condition had been mismanaged by the hospital, and claimed that, had doctors recognised that she needed an examination by a neurologist, she could have been transferred to Cork Hospital earlier for specialist treatment.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill at the High Court heard how chlamydia psittacosis can be passed from parrots to humans through inhalation of airborne dried faeces dust, and that Patricia had never received any health and safety training throughout her employment at Petmania.

He also heard expert testimony to state that the single most significant risk of working in a pet store was the risk of contracting an infectious disease, yet because of the animals´ low value, pets at Petmania were never screened or treated against the potentially fatal diseases.

In respect of the action against the Health Service Executive (HSE), the court heard that doctors at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital had watched Patricia´s condition deteriorate for 58 hours before transferring her to Cork Hospital, even though they were aware that she worked in a pet shop due to a previous hospital attendance when she was bitten by a rat.

It was claimed that had there been a proper recognition of her symptoms, some, if not all of her current condition would have been avoided.

Although the case was anticipated to last for several weeks, protracted talks on the fourth day of court proceedings resulted in the HSE agreeing to settle the claim, and pursuing Patricia´s claims against the other defendants.

The settlement package consists of 3 million Euros to be paid to Patricia immediately in respect of her injuries, with further lifetime payments to be considered in two years time once new legislation is in place to facilitate structured payments.

The health Service Executive have estimated that it currently costs around 500,000 Euros to provide Patricia with the treatment she needs, so the total compensation package is likely to exceed the record High Court award of 7.5 million Euros paid to a child who sustained cerebral palsy at birth.


Brave Garda Officer Awarded 60,000 Euros for Internal Injury

A young female Garda has been commended in the High Court for her bravery and awarded 60,000 Euros for injuries she sustained in the apprehension of an aggressive man in June 2000.

Garda Martina Gallagher (38) of Castleblayney, County Monaghan, was just 27 years of age when she had been called to an incident in Grafton Street, Dublin, where a man had thrown a bottle at members of the public.

As she tried to apprehend the man, she was struck on her left side – leaving her with an injury that had caused her severe pain in her ribs and abdomen, with shooting pains into her leg. Despite having physiotherapy for two years, Martina had difficulties with three pregnancies in subsequent years and experienced pain when lifting them after they were born.

Making the award in the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that the reason for the long delay between the injury and the hearing was due to an ongoing investigation into the effects of her injuries during the three pregnancies. All three children had to be delivered by Caesarean section and Martina still has to maintain a home exercise program to keep the pain from her injuries under control.

Describing Martina as “very brave”, the judge awarded her 59,530 Euros in Garda compensation.


Retired Garda Awarded 40,000 Euros for Service Injury

A former Garda, who sustained neck and arm injuries in the apprehension of a motorbike thief, has been awarded 40,000 Euros in Garda compensation at the High Court.

Eamonn Fitzgerald (59) of Cork, told the Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court how he and a Garda colleague were attempting to arrest a man who had admitted possession of a stolen motorbike when the incident happened in July 2001.

The court heard how the thief had pinned Eamonn´s colleague to the floor and, as Eamonn tried to pull the crook away, he was tossed martial arts style head-over-heels onto some concrete steps.

Eamonn landed awkwardly, damaging his neck and left arm and shoulder, and spent a full week in hospital recovering from his injuries. He also missed work for a period of six weeks.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine awarded Eamonn just over 40,000 Euros in Garda compensation for his injuries – damages which will be paid by the Minister for Finance.


Soldier´s Widow to Receive 300,000 Euros Compensation

The widow of a peace-keeping soldier, who was killed in a landmine explosion more than twenty years ago, has had a compensation settlement of 300,000 Euros approved in the High Court. Private Maddix Armstrong (26) was killed, along with two other Irish U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeepers, when a landmine exploded alongside their truck on March 21 1989 near the town of Brashit in South Lebanon.
Maddix´s widow, Grainne, sued the State and Minister for Defence, alleging that the State had failed in its responsibility to take all reasonable precautions for the safety of Private Armstrong and his colleagues while they were engaged in their duties.
It was claimed in the action that the peace-keepers had been required to drive the truck in an area where there was an ever-present danger of landmines without remote-sensing equipment and with no search conducted for landmines ahead of the truck.
In April of this year, Defence Minister Alan Shatter announced that a review of the three soldiers´ deaths was to be conducted by senior counsel, Frank Callanan. The results of that review are not due until August 19, but Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court heard that the State was prepared to make an offer of 300,000 Euros now to avoid a full hearing during which there would be evidential difficulties. Approving the award, Ms Justice Mary Irvine stated that these were “hard, sad cases” and with such a difficult claim to determine, Grainne Armstrong was right to accept the offer that had been made to her.


Garda Hero Awarded 100,000 Euros for Stab Injury

A Garda officer, who was injured trying to disarm a crazed knifeman, has been awarded 100,000 Euros for the physical and psychological injuries he received during his attempted heroism.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court heard how Sergeant John Liston (55) of Mallow, County Cork, and two Garda colleagues had tried to disarm a knife wielding Fermoy man on New Year’s Eve 2006.
The man, whose father was known to Sgt. Liston, had earlier been involved in light-hearted conversation with the Garda officers but, after being refused entry to one of the city’s nightclubs, had produced two knives and started acting in a very menacing way.
Sgt. Liston and his colleagues confronted the man in McCurtain Street and tried to overpower him as he removed his overcoat. During the attempt, Sgt. Liston was stabbed in the side and had to undergo surgery for his injuries. It was while the officer was in Cork Hospital that he discovered that the man had turned the knives on himself and committed suicide.
Sgt. Liston was awarded an excellence award for his bravery and the way in which he had dealt with the incident, but in court broke down several times as he tried to explain how he had been unable to prevent the man from killing himself. The court heard that the post traumatic stress disorder suffered by Sgt. Liston had caused him many sleepless nights and that he still had flashbacks to the incident.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine awarded Sgt Liston 100,000 Euros for general damages and a further 6,400 Euros to cover special damages and costs.


Injured Bus Driver Awarded 553,000 Euros in Stair Slip Case

A female bus driver, who had to take early retirement due to slipping and falling on the bus company’s stairwell, has been awarded 553,000 Euros in personal injury compensation. Susan Conaty (52), of Arklow, County Wicklow, was taking a rest break from her driving duties at the Dublin Bus Donnybrook depot in December 2003, when she slipped walking up the stairwell which led to the canteen. She subsequently fell eight to ten steps and landed upside down – suffering severe personal injuries that were made worse by an existing back condition.
Mr Justice Iarhflaith O’Neill in the High Court heard that Ms Conaty had tried to return to work after the accident, but had to take early retirement in 2006 because of her injuries. Ms Conaty filed a claim for personal injury compensation against Dublin Bus because, she claimed, they had not provided her with a safe environment in which to work.
The court heard that Dublin Bus had permitted the unsafe practice of allowing drinks to be taken from the canteen, and that this had lead to liquid being spilt on the landing area which had a slippery vinyl surface. Mr Justice Iarhflaith O’Neill found that Dublin Bus had failed in its duty to provide Ms Conaty with a safe place in which to work and awarded damages of 553,000 Euros.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Claim Nets 13,500 Euros

A Tesco’s security guard, who suffered post traumatic stress after being trapped in a lift at their Dundrum Shopping Centre Store in Dublin, has been awarded 13,500 Euros in a court action against the company.
Judge Joseph Matthews heard in the Circuit Civil Court how William Murphy (27) of Ashford, County Wicklow, had been one of a number of people trapped between floors in a lift for almost an hour in September 2006.
Due to the lack of oxygen, heat and humidity, Mr Murphy had been overcome with fear while awaiting rescue by the fire service, and had subsequently been off from work with a stress related illness for several weeks. Mr Murphy still experiences feelings of panic when in lifts and confined spaces.
In the action brought against Tesco Ireland Ltd and Byrne Lifts Ltd, Millennium Business Park, Dublin, the court heard that once the doors of the lift had closed, the lift dropped suddenly and then jerked to a stop – trapping the group of people inside for between 45 and 60 minutes.
Judge Matthews found in favour of the claimant, stating that he was satisfied that the lift had not been overloaded and that the problem had been caused by over-speeding. He accepted that over-heating in the hydraulic system had triggered an emergency safety cut-out, and that the accident could have been prevented with the implementation of a cooling system.


6 Million Euros for Defence Forces Compensation

Internal documents from the Department of Defence have revealed that almost 6 million Euros is being set aside to compensate members of the defence forces in personal injury claims.
The substantial increase, from the 4.1 million Euros which was paid out last year, is due to an anticipated increase in the number of claims from soldiers who were exposed to the controversial anti-malaria drug, Larium.
The department is already aware of at least 10 cases where members of the defence forces have claimed they developed serious side effects as a consequence of taking the drug, and the extra provision in their budget is to account for any new personal injury compensation claims deriving from soldiers who recently served in Chad or the Central African Republic.
The Department of Defence has also factored into their compensation budget an allocation for post traumatic stress disorder as well as an increase for the most common types of compensation claim – personal injuries arising from traffic accidents, occupational personal injuries, and administrative law cases in areas such as promotion and disciplinary action.
The Statute of Limitations applies to member of the defence forces in the same way as the general public, and soldiers have two years from the date of knowledge of an injury in which to make a claim for personal injury compensation.


80,000 Euros Compensation for Work Facial Injury

A truck driver, who sustained serious facial injuries when he was struck by a steel wedge, has been awarded 80,000 Euros by the High Court. Mr Justice John MacMenamin heard how Keith Dowling (38) of Kildangan, County Kildare, was almost decapitated as a steel wedge, being used to secure the ballast weight on his trailer, shot from its mounting causing permanent damage to Mr. Dowling’s face. The wedge, which measured 14 inches by 6 inches, was being hammered in place by a co-worker when the accident happened.


Farm Accidents: Injured Drover to Receive Compensation for Bullock Kick

A cattle drover, who suffered serious injuries after being kicked by a bullock, is to receive damages from his employer after the Supreme Court ruled that the employer had placed the injured employee at risk.
Mr. Patrick Lynch (53) of Crubany, County Cavan, had been one of a team of three cattle drovers who were employed by Cavan Co-op Mart in October 2003 to herd cattle from a pen in the mart yard to a dividing pen prior to their entering the sales ring.
However, on the day on which Mr. Lynch sustained his injuries, his two companions had absented themselves temporarily, and it was claimed in court that Mr. Lynch had to perform the two absent drovers’ tasks, as well as his own, which required him to enter the individual pens while they were occupied by animals.
As Mr. Lynch was moving through the animal pen to open a gate, the court heard how a Limousin bullock delivered a direct kick to Mr. Lynch’s groin, causing significant trauma to the scrotum and giving rise to a haemorrhage which caused damage to his right testis. Mr. Lynch was subsequently taken to Cavan Hospital for treatment.
The court ruled that, although a safe procedure of work was in place when three drovers were present, there was no system of supervision by the employer. As the improper absence of the other two drovers exposed Mr. Lynch to danger, Cavan Co-op Mart was liable for his injuries.
The case has now been referred to the High Court for the assessment of damages.


Teenager Awarded 110,000 Euros for Eye Injury

A teenager who sustained an eye injury when his eye was impaled on an exposed milking machine hook is to receive 110,000 Euros in compensation. Mr. Justice John Quirke heard at the High Court how David Booth, 17, of Stradbally, County Laois was just eight years of age when he sustained the horrific injury in the milking parlour at his family’s farm in April 2002.
Although David has no recollection of the events leading up to the accident, it was claimed that the defendants – Senior Milking Machine Company Ltd and Stradbally Farm Services Ltd, both of Stradbally, County Laois – were negligent on the grounds that the milking machine was not designed and constructed to a safe standard.
The defendant denied the claim, brought on David’s behalf through his elder sister Elaine, and also that they permitted an exposed hook to be present on the machine with no consideration of the hazard it presented. The settlement was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke without admission of liability.


HIV Surgeon Settles after HSE Admission of Screening Failure

A senior surgical registrar, who´s career ended after he contracted the HIV virus from a patient, has settle his claim against the HSE, the State and the hospital in which he worked at the High Court.
The doctor, who cannot be named by court order, is believed to have contracted the virus in 1997 due to a needle stick injury as he performed an operation. Due to the fact that he had performed more than one hundred operations in the three months prior to his diagnosis, he was unable to be specific about the actual patient, but claimed that a lack of screening of hospital patients for HIV had exposed him to a risk of harm.
The doctor further claimed that under the Hippocratic Oath taken by all doctors he had a duty to perform surgery on patients irrespective of their condition; however the HSE did not have a policy of mandatory testing on the grounds that it was uneconomical and that only patients suspected of carrying the virus were asked if they were contaminated. Since contracting his infection, the doctor has had to give up his duties as a senior surgical registrar and suffers all the consequences of having an HIV virus – including tiredness, lethargy and depression. He has undergone therapy to deal with the illness which has substantially altered his lifestyle and prevented the doctor and his wife from having children.
In their defence, the defendants stated that circulars and guidelines were issue to health boards about controlling infection through blood-borne disease and that the doctor had failed to have adequate regard for these guidelines and the risk of HIV infection while carrying out invasive surgery. The HSE denied the claims but admitted contributory negligence. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.


Irish Farm Fatalities More Than Double in 2010

A report released by the Health and Safety Authority has revealed an increase of 127% in fatal accidents on Irish farms in 2010. The number of deaths in the agriculture industry rose from 11 in 2009 to 25 in 2010 and represents more than half of all workplace fatalities occurring in Ireland.

Commenting on the high fatal accident rate in agriculture, Chief Executive of the HSA, Mr. Martin O´Halloran stated “Farming is a difficult and challenging occupation, many involved are self-employed and the pressures that farmers are under can be intense at times. However, the fact is that the types of farm accidents that are causing deaths and serious accidents, such as those involving machinery and livestock, can be prevented.”

He also urged farmers and farm proprietors to follow the example of the construction industry, which has seen a substantial drop in workplace fatalities (from 10 to 6 in 2010), and which Mr. O´Halloran attributed to everybody “buying-in” to the concept of health and safety. Reaffirming the HSA policy that increased compliance results in a sustained reduction in accidents, Mr O´Halloran announced an increase in planned farm inspections in 2011 from 1,700 (in 2010) to a minimum of 3,000.

Acknowledging that many types of farm accidents which cause death and serious injury can be prevented, Mr. O’Halloran concluded, “We want to work with farmers by taking a sensible approach to health and safety management. We will support those that genuinely want to improve and take enforcement action against those that refuse to do so”.


Employers Given Ice Advice by HSA

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has urged employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees and visitors to their premises during cold weather. Writing on the HSA web site, Anne Maria O’Connor, Senior Inspector with the Authority said –

“Last year approximately one in five reported accidents to the Authority were as a result of a slip, trip or fall. With approximately a quarter of these accidents resulting in absences from work of more than a month, it’s in everyone’s interest that simple safeguards are taken to reduce the risk of workplace falls.”

The HSA has issued further advice on its web site to prevent slips, trips and falls due to treacherous conditions in freezing weather. These include identifying areas of the workplace where employees and visitors are most likely to be affected by ice and snow – such as car parks and exposed walkways – and making sure that floor areas are kept as dry as possible. Employers are also encouraged to monitor weather forecasts to plan ahead for inclement weather and plan accordingly.

Employees are also offered advice by the HSA to prevent the incidence of slips, trips and falls due to icy conditions. It is suggested that employees take care when getting out of their vehicles – holding onto its door to support themselves when the ground may be frozen. Furthermore, employees should also wear appropriate footwear for the weather and dry them thoroughly when entering a workplace to avoid causing wet and slippery conditions inside the premises.

Employers have an obligation under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act to provide a safe environment in which to work. Failing to take heed of the advice issued by the HSA could result in an employer being liable for any injury sustained in the workplace. You should mention this to a solicitor if you are in the unfortunate position where you have to make a claim for personal injury compensation due to the lack of care by an employer.


Worker Awarded 7,000 Euro for “Inappropriate” Remarks

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has awarded Pamela McCann of Bellaghy, County Sligo, compensation of over €7,000  “entirely inappropriate” remarks from a male superior at Homebase House and Garden Centre in Santry, Dublin.

Ms McCann had worked for15 months at Homebase before resigning in October 2008, which the court ruled the the resigation was in fact a constructive dismissal becase of the stress caused by the store manager’s sexual comments and fear of being fired. Ms McCann spoke to another manager about the inappropriate behaviour the situation deteriored further and the store manager began ignoring her.
In another incicdent, it was claimed that the store manager’s response to Ms McCann’s pregnancy was to ask her what she “intended to do about it”, implying abortion. It was also claimed that a member of the human resources staff was “quite shocked” by the store manager’s remarks about McCann’s clothes.
The court ruled that  comments were “unwelcome and could reasonably be regarded as sexually offensive, humiliating or intimidating”.
A lesson for any employees is that Ms McCann won her case because she reported the inappropriate behaviour to another manager and discussed it with human resources staff. So the problems were “on the record”. It is also very useful to keep accurate contemporary written notes about every incident, including the exact wording of any comments and the names of any witnesses. It is also appropriate in certain circumstances to rely on CCTV in the workplace (for example, where there is inapporpriate physical contact). However, it is inappopropriate to make illicit recordings of telephone conversations or to take illicit video recordings. In the case of cyber-bullying, any emails or texts or instant messages should be kept as evidence.
The basic steps you should take are:

  • Keep accurate records about all incidents
  • Do not respond in any way to provocation
  • Speak to a solicitor
  • Report incidents to human resources or more senior management

Employers and their employees have duties by law that your solicitor will explain to you.


Gardai Receive Compensation Payments of 12 Million Euro in 2009

Controller and Auditor General has revealed that payments made under the Garda Siochana Compensation Acts for injury compensation claims amounted to 12 million euro in 2009. The highest award to a Garda was €132,000.  Civilians injuried in accidents on Garda premises are entitled to receive compensation under the act and six civilians shared compensation of €48,000. The Controller and Auditor General has also reported that compensation and legal costs of over €3m were paid out in 2009 for accidents involving grada squad cars. The payments were made for 280 cases that resulted from 532 accidents, with payments ranging from €2 to €250,000.  Prisoners and civilians visiting prisons are entitled to compensation. Prison staff injured while on duty received €682,000, with the highest payment being €73,000. Some 83 prisoners received compensation for injuries while an seemingly very high number of civilians – 26 – were hurt while visiting jails and claimed compensation.