Ex-refuse collector who claims he was injured in rubbish truck sues Panda Waste

He claims he injured his neck and spine and the injuries are preventing him from returning to work
Ex-refuse collector who claims he was injured in rubbish truck sues Panda Waste

Krysztof Owsianka claims the rubbish lorry was moving at about 50km per hour when it went over a ramp in Dublin’s city centre. File picture: Jason Clarke

A man is suing his former employer for injuries he allegedly sustained when the refuse truck he was in drove over a speed ramp.

Krysztof Owsianka, 48, whose case is against the operator of Panda Waste, claims he injured his neck and spine when he was thrust upwards from his seat and hit his head off a structure on the vehicle’s roof when travelling as a passenger in the truck.

He claims the rubbish lorry was moving at about 50km per hour when it went over a ramp on Hanover Quay in Dublin’s city centre at about midnight on October 11, 2016. He alleges the driver was distracted by a video on his phone when the incident occurred.

Mr Owsianka, with addresses in Poland and at Monastery Gate Villas, Clondalkin, is seeking €350,000 from Nurendale Unlimited Company, with offices at Beauparc Business Park, Navan, Co. Meath, for earnings lost allegedly due to his injuries, the court heard.

The claims are denied.

'Very severe pain'

Through a Polish interpreter, Mr Owsianka said he was “motionless” on the floor of the vehicle in “very, very severe pain” following the alleged incident, which resulted in an ambulance being called. He is being treated for neck and lumbar spine injuries, which are preventing him from returning to work now, he said.

Tom Hogan SC, instructed by solicitor Rory Muldowney, for Nurendale, put it to him that it was not true that the driver had been using his phone at the time, to which Mr Owsianka replied: “I wouldn’t have imagined such a thing. I wouldn’t say it if it was not true.” 

Driver's testimony

Mr Hogan said the driver of the vehicle will claim he was not distracted and was driving at between 10 and 15km per hour. Mr Owsianka said the driver should present data from his company speed recording device to prove he was not travelling at 50km per hour as the matter is “his word against mine”.

Counsel said the driver will also claim the plaintiff “simply threw” himself onto the floor of the truck and that he didn’t hit his head. The driver will also say he thought Mr Owsianka was “joking” when he would not get off the floor and kept “screaming” about his back following the alleged incident, the court heard.

Mr Owsianka said this was not true and his medical records prove otherwise.

Injuries

Mr Hogan put it to him that the degenerative changes in his spine between two MRI scans, in 2016 and 2017, were due to “wear and tear” and were symptomatic prior to the accident. The plaintiff said the injuries were due to the 2016 event and he never had any issues with his lumbar spine prior to it.

Among Mr Owsianka’s claims is that the refuse truck was driven at speed over a ramp owing to the negligence and breach of duty of Nurendale, its servants or agents.

The father-of-one told the court that he lives primarily in Poland at the moment as therapies are cheaper there. He said he has spent about €16,000 on various treatments for his injuries and receives just over €200 per week from the Irish authorities in the form of the invalidity pension.

He said he was earning about €650 per week when employed by Nurendale as a refuse collector and truck driver. He has not been in employment since the incident nearly six years ago, apart from for one month, which he said was to test if he was fit to work again.

The case before Mr Justice Garrett Simons continues on Thursday.

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