Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Electrocution Injuries

A judge at the High Court has approved a €700,000 settlement of compensation for electrocution injuries in favour of a seventeen year-old-boy.

On July 3rd 2008, Kurt O´Callaghan was just ten years of age when he and his friends from Wexford City were playing in woodland near their homes. After helping make a camp, Kurt decided to put a “Keep Out” sign on a nearby electricity pole. Kurt climbed the wall of an adjacent housing estate to reach the pole, but as it started nailing his sign onto it, Kurt nailed into a high-voltage electric cable.

The force of the subsequent shock blew Kurt off of the wall, and he was fortunate inasmuch as a passing motorist saw the accident and was able to take him to hospital. Kurt was later transferred to the Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, where he spent the next three months receiving treatment for severe burns to his head, neck, shoulders, chest, and hands. Kurt may need further skin grafts in the future.

Through his mother – Denise – Kurt made a claim for compensation for electrocution injuries against the Electricity Service Board (ESB). In his legal action it was claimed that the ESB knew – or should have known – that a risk of injury existed, and that there had been a failure by the ESB to consider the wall Kurt had used to access the electricity pole as a risk due to its proximity to the electricity cables.

The claim for compensation for electrocution injuries was supported by a report compiled by an expert electrical engineer. The report was critical of the ESB for not identifying the risk of danger and, in addition to stating that the ESB had failed in its statutory requirement to ensure that electricity poles were inaccessible to a height of three metres, the electrical engineer found 52 other nails that had been used to hang posters.

The ESB denied liability for Kurt´s injuries, and the claim for compensation for electrocution injuries was scheduled for a full court hearing. However, prior to the hearing, a €700,000 settlement of the claim was agreed and a hearing was arranged for the settlement to be approved. At the approval hearing, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that it was a good settlement in the circumstances as – if Kurt´s claim for compensation for electrocution injuries had gone to a full hearing – he may have been accused of contributory negligence.