Payout to rugby fan hit by railway barrier on way to Leinster-Munster match

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Tom Tuite

A rugby fan has been awarded €6,000 damages after a painful bang on the head from a level crossing barrier as he made his way to a Leinster-Munster match at the Aviva stadium.

Iarnrod Eireann failed in its duty of care and was liable for what occurred, Judge Deirdre Gearty held at Dublin District Court on Friday.

Dublin Fire Brigade paramedic Rod Hayden sued after he was hit by a descending barrier as he was walked among a crowd of supporters making their way to the derby on October 6th, 2018.

Mr Hayden, of Herbert Park, Bray, Co Wicklow, told the contested hearing he approached the automatic gates of the Dart crossing at Serpentine Avenue, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, and waited for them to rise.

He told William Fitzgerald BL he then proceeded but before he got across he suffered a bang which knocked him rolling on the ground holding his head.

Level crossing

He recalled he got a “bit of a shock” and he was dazed. He also noticed other people were still on the tracks between the closed barriers.

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There was a man in a high-vis jacket at the level crossing but he did not hear any warning.

Afterwards he had extra neck pain and headache which got so bad he went to his GP. He was told he had whiplash and to take pain killers.

He went to the doctor twice but by January 2019 he no longer suffered symptoms.

CCTV footage was shown to the judge.

Questioned by Iarnrod Eireann’s counsel Brendan Savage, Mr Hayden said he crossed when the barriers went up. He did not hear a warning buzzer or see warning lights.

As a fire-fighter paramedic for 17 years, he was trained to pay attention, he said.

He agreed with Mr Savage that sometimes people have to take extra care and said that through his work he conducts dynamic risk assessments and gets alerted by a buzzer.

He told the court he was observant and he tended not to do stupid things like scale through barriers.

Buzzer

Engineer Neil O’Carroll examined the scene later. He told the court that once the first barrier went up, pedestrians had six seconds before the second one started to come down. However, a crowd moved slower.

The expert witness said the sound of the signal was also particularly low; it was a buzzer and not like a klaxon. He thought it was fine on a normal day but not very alarming in the context of a match crowd.

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He took a recording of the buzzer and found it was not as loud as the sound of passing cars. He told the court the plaintiff would not have been able to see the lights.

One attendant managed the “danger zone” and it was not sufficient to to control the flow of traffic and pedestrians, the witness said.

Because it was a match day, Iarnrod Eireann hired a security firm to have two attendants manage people and traffic at the crossing.

One of them admitted he had moved out of position and he should have stopped the people.

Legal costs, medical and witness expenses were awarded to the plaintiff.

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