Social Care Worker Injury Claim Resolved during Court Hearing

A social care worker injury claim, made by a man who broke his knee while running after a child in his care, has been resolved during a court hearing.

In June 2009, Joseph Kavanagh (54) from Enfield in County Meath was working in a Special Care Residential Unit for young people with behavioural problems when he was asked to accompany a teenager on a family visit. At the end of the visit, the teenager – who cannot be named for legal reasons – became agitated and ran away from his carer.

Joseph gave pursuit, but he twisted his knee as he ran after the child. Joseph fell and cracked his knee on the road surface – a later x-ray revealing that the knee was broken. Since the incident, Joseph has experienced ongoing pain from his injury that interferes with his daily activities and has a four centimetre scar from his fall.

After seeking legal advice, Joseph made a social care worker injury claim against his employer – the Health Service Executive (HSE). In his legal action, Joseph alleged that there had been a failure to carry out a risk assessment following earlier agitation prior to the visit. Joseph argued that a risk assessment would have shown that another member of staff should have accompanied him and the child.

The HSE denied liability for Joseph´s injury, and the social care worker injury claim went to the Circuit Civil Court where Joseph´s case was presented to Judge Francis Comerford. However, before the HSE could present its defence against the social care worker injury claim, the judge was told that a settlement had been agreed and the claim had been resolved.

Details of the settlement were not released to the court, but it is understood that liability for Joseph´s injury was shared on a 50/50 basis. Judge Comerford struck out the case after awarding Joseph his legal costs.