201801.25
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Garda Appeals for Right to Sue for Fingernail Injury Compensation

Garda Noel Callan, who suffered with a disfigured fingernail injury after a patrol car door slammed on the small finger of his left hand while he was tending to a call out, has challenged a refusal to allow him pursue a compensation claim.

The Garda, who was restraining a drunk and violent man at the time the incident occurred, disputes the refusal of the Minister for Justice to sanction a claim under the Garda Compensation Acts because the Minister felt that, based on the medical reports and evidence made available to him, the injury was minor.

Mr Justice Max Barrett heard the challenge to that refusal at the High Court on Wednesday and has reserved judgment.

Legal representative for Garda Callan Richard Kean SC claimed that, in line with the Garda Compensation Acts, a member of Gardai who suffers injury in the line of work is entitled to seek compensation from the courts and gardai are awarded sums in appropriate cases.

However, Garda Callan’s legal team accepted that a Minister must authorise a work injury compensation to be made and is not obliged to do so they feel that the injury suffered was merely trivial.

As the term ‘minor injury’ is not defined in the legislation it led to the issue arising in the legal compensation action. Mr Kean argued that, though the finger injury was not profound or serious, it still should not be classified as a minor injury. He added that, due to this, the Minister’s decision was not sound and did not properly consider the medical reports that were submitted at the initial hearing.

Counsel advised the court that Garda Callan is right handed and received treatment on his left hand’s little finger. He was also absent from work for a week following the incident.

Injuries sustained including a lacerated fingernail bed and his fingernail had to be removed. Due to this the Garda experienced pain over the following eight months including a loss of sensation and tenderness when driving and completing other tasks.

Mr Kean described how Garda Callan suffered the fingernail work injury when was on duty at Swords, Co Dublin, on August 26 2011. According to the evidence, a car door slammed on Garda Callan’s left hand after a drunk man became violent after being arrested in relation to public order offences.

The medical report produced referred to the fact when it grew back the fingernail was irregular and deformed. Garda Callan continues to experience some pain and tenderness, particularly during periods of colder weather.

Counsel for the Minister, opposing Garda Callan’s application claimed that all the initial medical evidence was fully considered, including a medical report stating Garda Callan had essentially recovered from the injury he experienced on the evening in question. Due to this the Minister decided that this was a minor injury concerning the cosmetic appearance of the fingernail.

Judge Max Barrett has reserved judgement in relation to the legal challenge.