The ESB has paid €70,000 in compensation to a young boy after an electrocution accident left him receiving burn treatments for three months.
In July 2008, Kurt O’Callaghan (ten years old at the time of the incident) of Wexford was playing in a woodland near his home and making a camp with his friends. As a part of their game, he made a “keep out” sign to place on an electricity pole. As the young boy nailed his sign into the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) pole, the nail drove into an electricity cable and the force of the subsequent electric shock knocked Kurt off the wall he had been standing on.
A passerby rushed young Kurt to hospital, from which he was subsequently transferred to the Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin. Kurt underwent treatments for burns to his head, neck, shoulders, chest and hands for three months. It is possible that Kurt may need further surgery or skin grafts in future.
On behalf of her son, Denise O’Callaghan made a claim for electrocution accident compensation against the ESB, alleging that he had been exposed to a danger of electrocution which the ESB knew existed or should have known existed. She further claimed that the electricity company had neglected to carry out an inspection of the wall which Kurt had used to access the electricity pole as to notice the wall’s proximity to the electricity cables, which could potentially be hazardous.
Expert evidence was provided that was critical of the ESB for not identifying the risk of danger to the boy. The report stated that there was a statutory requirement to ensure that electricity poles were inaccessible to a height of three metres, and the ESB should have spotted that the pole was accessible if the wall was climbed upon.
The defendants denied liability for Kurt’s injuries, and the electrocution accident compensation claim was scheduled for a full court hearing to assess liability. However, before the hearing could take place, the two parties agree upon a settlement of €700,000 to be awarded to Kurt as compensation for his injuries and suffering. Since the compensation was being paid to a minor, the sum needed to be approved in court by a judge.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the settlement, stating that it was a good one considering that Kurt may have been accused of contributory negligence had the case gone to a full hearing.