A widow whose husband was killed, along with his close friend and neighbour, in a tragic farm accident has secured some €282,500 under a settlement of her High Court action over his death.
Seamus Hegarty and Kevin Woods, both aged 52 and from the Raphoe area of Co. Donegal, died six years ago when a punctured tractor tyre they were fixing became overinflated and its steel rim blew off and hit them, causing fatal head injuries.
Mr Hegarty’s widow Mary, of Cloughfin, Ballindrait, Lifford, brought proceedings on her own behalf, and on behalf of their four children, who were aged between seven and 18 when the accident happened on November 21, 2014. At the time, both men, who grew up together, were involved in potato harvesting work at Crossroads, Killygordan, and had stopped at about 6pm to fix the tyre on Mr Woods' tractor.
The case was defended by the late Mr Woods’ insurer, FBD. Mr Justice Garrett Simons was told on Monday by Miriam Reilly, for Mrs Hegarty, that FBD had provided a full defence and that contributory negligence on the part of Mr Hegarty was alleged.
She said a settlement negotiated last July of €282,500 represented just over 50% of the full value of the case but various complex elements had had to be taken into account, including the accelerated benefit for the couple’s youngest child of her inheritance of her father’s estate.
Mrs Hegarty is very happy with the settlement offer, is keen to resolve the matter for herself and her children and has undertaken to distribute the settlement fairly amongst them, counsel added.
Mr Justice Simons said the offer was a very good one given the risk the case carried if it went to hearing. There were significant issues concerning causation and contributory negligence, including whether Mr Hegarty should have waited for a pressure gauge, which was on its way from a local garage, to arrive, he said.
Noting the court’s approval was required only in relation to the payments for the couple’s youngest child as she remains a minor, he granted that approval.