July 8, 2011

A High Court judge has ruled a Donegal farmer has established negligence against the Electricity Supply Board over serious leg and other injuries suffered after his van was hit by an ESB pick-up truck. Damages will be decided later.

Mr Justice John Quirke accepted the account of Patrick Campbell (64), with an address near Dungloe of how the accident occurred in June 2005, including his claim the ESB truck was driven at an excessive speed.

Mr Campbell was a careful and conscientious witness and much, although not all, of his evidence was corroborated by circumstantial and other evidence, the judge said. Mr Campbell had proven, on the evidence and balance of probabilities, the collision and his injuries were caused by the ESB’s negligence, he found.

The ESB had denied Mr Campbell’s claims the pick-up truck was being driven in a negligent manner by an ESB employee when it collided with Mr Campbell’s white transit van at Croaghnashallog, Dungloe on the afternoon of June 30th 2005. The ESB alleged the accident was caused or contributed to by Mr Campbell’s alleged negligent driving.

Mr Campbell had claimed he was approaching a turn known as Sweeney’s Corner near his home when he saw a yellow ESB truck approaching him in the opposite direction at speed.

He said he pulled into the grass verge on his left-hand side and stopped his van but the ESB truck came onto its incorrect side of the road and appeared to “sway”.

A protrusion at the rear of the truck struck his windscreen, caught him on the shoulder and caused his van to be pulled around while the ESB truck flipped over, he claimed.

The driver of the ESB truck denied that account and claimed he was approaching Sweeney’s Corner when he saw Mr Campbell’s van travelling towards him. He claimed the van seemed to lose control, travelled onto the wrong side of the road and the driver “jammed on the brakes”, struck his truck and propelled it to its left.

Having analysed the evidence, Mr Justice Quirke noted both sides accepted Mr Campbell was not driving at a speed of more than 25mph when the accident occurred.

Tyre marks photographed immediately after the accident were consistent with the presence of Mr Campbell’s van at the location where he said he had stopped while debris from his van was also clearly visible at that location, he said. He also accepted Mr Campbell’s evidence the ESB truck was being driven at excessive speed.

These matters were not conclusive but he believed Mr Campbell’s account was probably correct, the judge ruled.


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