herald

Thursday 15 November 2018

Binman who suffered brain injury in van fall settles claim for €3.5m

Binman Benjamin Heffernan. Photo: Courtpix
Binman Benjamin Heffernan. Photo: Courtpix

A binman who suffered a severe brain injury after he was propelled from a waste disposal van onto the road has settled his High Court action for €3.5m.

Benjamin Heffernan, who fell through the side door of the van, fractured his skull in the fall and suffered a brain injury, his counsel Liam Reidy SC told the High Court.

Mr Heffernan was travelling in a van belonging to Killarney Waste Disposal, delivering compost bins to households in the Durrus area of Bantry, Co Cork, when the accident happened in January 2015.

Mr Heffernan lost consciousness upon hitting the road, and was taken by emergency services to nearby Dunmanway, where he was airlifted to Cork University Hospital.

He underwent an emergency craniotomy and was later transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dublin - where he remained until August 2015.

The 50-year-old man, counsel said, will not be able to work again, though he now has a degree of mobility.

Mr Heffernan, of Friary Downs, Park Road, Killarney, Co Kerry, had sued his employer Killarney Waste Disposal - based in Aughacureen, Killarney - the owner of the refuse vehicle, and its driver Mike Brosnan, of Chestnut Drive, Killarney, Co Kerry, as a result of the accident on January 12, 2015, in Durrus, Co Cork.

Excessive

It was claimed that Mr Heffernan was propelled from the refuse vehicle and lost consciousness. He was taken to nearby Dunmanway and was airlifted to Cork University Hospital, where he was intubated and ventilated.

He claimed there was an alleged failure to have any adequate safety devices, such as harnesses or otherwise, to ensure Mr Heffernan was not thrown from the vehicle and there was an alleged failure to ensure he had a seatbelt and was provided with a helmet.

It was further claimed Mr Heffernan was allegedly caused or permitted to work at an excessive pressure or at an excessive speed and there was an alleged failure to ensure there was a handle on the inside of the van door.

The claims were denied and it was contended that Mr Heffernan had allegedly directed Mr Brosnan to drive the van and he had got in the back of the van.

It was further claimed Mr Heffernan had failed to ensure the van was decommissioned when he allegedly was aware of a defect in the latch of the van door.

These claims were denied by Mr Heffernan.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was a good one and he wished Mr Heffernan and his family all the best for the future.

Outside court, solicitor Amy Connolly, of Cantillons Solicitors, said Mr Heffernan had spent 33 weeks in hospital following the accident, having suffered life-changing injuries.

"This settlement will provide for the ongoing care of Mr Heffernan, but no money can ever truly compensate him for the effect his injuries have had on his day-to-day life," she said.

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