September 23, 2022

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A 32-year-old soldier, who was catapulted from his bicycle when a van driver suddenly opened the door of his vehicle, has been awarded €30,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court for personal injuries.

Barrister Noel Cosgrove said that Private Anthony O’Flaherty, of Oranmore Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin, had been cycling to his work in McKee Barracks, Dublin, on January 16th 2019 when the accident happened.

Mr Cosgrove for Mr O’Flaherty told Judge Terry O’Sullivan the soldier had suffered a fracture to his left wrist and abrasions to his right leg when flung from his bicycle onto the roadway.

Mr O’Flaherty, who sued the Scottish man Robert Robertson, of Fenwick, Ayreshire, said the accident happened near Memorial Park, Islandbridge, Dublin. He had been cycling along the roadway when the driver’s door of Robertson’s van had been suddenly opened in his path.

He told Judge O’Sullivan the driver had been on his phone while seated in the van as he heard him speaking on it just as the door had been opened. He said he had been catapulted across the roadway and Mr Robertson had come over to him and said: “I didn’t see you. Are you okay?”

Mr Robertson, who had parked his Scottish registered Mercedes works van fully on a footpath, told the court he had been out of his van at the time. His front door and the van’s sliding side door were both open and he had been looking towards the inside of his van.

He said he had suddenly heard a noise and it had only been then that he realised there had been an accident.

Judge O’Sullivan said he preferred Mr O’Flaherty’s account of what had happened. He did not accept that if the van door had already been open just prior to the incident that any cyclist would have ridden straight into it.

The judge told Mr Cosgrove the court accepted an emergency situation had been created by the van driver in the sudden opening of the door. He said Mr O’Flaherty’s medical reports of his injuries and treatment had been accepted by the defence and he awarded €30,000 and costs.

“People are not entitled to suddenly open doors without first checking that all is clear,” Judge O’Sullivan said.

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