Padraig Hearns (39) has been awarded compensation from Dublin City Council after being run over by a bin lorry in Dublin City, resulting in severe brain damage.
Padraig was lying on the street after being attacked during a night out in the Dublin Temple Bar area in April of 2007. Hurt and confused after the assault, he was unable to move out of the way before a bin lorry operated by Dublin City Council run him over, causing a fractured skull and severe arm injuries.
He was immediately brought to hospital, where he was treated for injuries to his head, arm and eye. He was put into an induced coma for a week, and spent several months following the incident confined to hospital to recover from the traumatic event.
Despite the level of care he received, Padraig sustained brain trauma and is now unable to care for himself. He is now dependant on his parents and siblings for his care, living in his parent’s home. He is also unable to return to work again in his life.
His parents made a claim for compensation from Dublin City Council on Padraig’s behalf for the bin lorry injury sustained. The defendants denied liability for the accident. Their solicitors argued that they were not at fault for Padraig lying in the path of the lorry, and therefore could not be held responsible.
The case was brought to the High Court, where it was heard by Mr Justice Michael Peart. The judge pointed out to the defendants that Dublin City Council had ignored its own by-laws that had been introduced mere months before the incident; they were not permitted to collect waste from the Temple Bar area between 12:00pm and 6:00pm, which they had been doing at the time of the incident.
Judge Peart also pointed out that the City Council had a duty of care to ensure that the scene was safe for the truck to move through the area by having an employee outside of the truck to survey the area. They had failed in this duty when they neglected to notice Padraig lying on the road beneath the lorry.
The judge further commented that “It makes complete sense from a public safety point of view that these large refuse trucks would not be permitted to try and negotiate their way through an area such as the narrow and crowded streets of Temple Bar when so many people are present”.
A settlement of €4,885,888 in injury compensation for the bin lorry accident was awarded to Padraig. This was the sum of €266,341 for loss of earnings, €155,230 for care costs to date, €350,000 for his suffering and €3,485,000 to cover his future care costs. The City Council also had to pay for legal costs covering the trial.