The last four years, there have been reports of people participating in tram surfing, which has results in incidents and injuries. The Irish Rail and Luas tram have records demonstrating that there have been more than 110 incidents since 2014. Tram surfing is the latest craze that involves a person holding onto the outside of the tram and clinging to the carriage before it is about to move away from the station. This is an activity can have fatal consequences*, as the person jumps onto the side door and has to hold on with their fingers on a small ledge.
One example of tram surfing happened at Fatima station on 3rd September 2010, where Ms Rebecca Kelly, a 13 year old girl, fell and sustained brain injuries*. She was tram surfing on a Luas with a friend and she had attempted to jump onto the Luas tram while it was moving away from the station. This results in her falling backwards onto the tracks and she hit her head on the ground. She sustained bad injuries and even had to be dragged from the tracks to avoid being hit by oncoming trams.
A compensation claim action* was brought through Elizabeth Kelly, the mother of Rebecca Kelly. It was argued that there has been a failure to provide adequate visual systems on the tram and the driver did not have a clear vision. This meant that the driver could not correctly observe the side of the tram away from the platform and this was not done before the tram moved away from Fatima Station.
Although, the High Court was informed that Ms Kelly accepted that what happened was her fault and she was aware that she should not have taken part in tram surfing at the time. Bruce Antoniotti informed the court that Ms Kelly understood that this was a very dangerous activity and that she wished there to be no blame on the drive of the Luas at the time.
The claims made by Ms Kelly were denied by Veolia, the operator of Luas. They argued that there has been contributory negligence in this case; Ms Kelly has chosen to tram surf and risk sustaining an injury. She had total disregard for her own safety when she decided to take part in tram surfing.
The compensation settlement was approved by Mr Justice Cross. He also stated that Ms Kelly should know that tram surfing was dangerous and should not have to be told it was a silly thing to do. But, he did appreciate that she had been honest. Ms Kelly was awarded €550,000 as a compensation settlement.
Moving forward, Irish Rail has made sure that the refurbishments made to the Dart fleet make tram surfing more difficult. This comes after 12 incidents on the luas happened in the last three years between Dublin and Dundalk. This includes changing the headlight units so that it is hard to hang on to them. In addition, staff are being advised to be more vigilant and report any risks that they see to prevent more public injuries and claims* from tram surfing.
McSweeney Personal Injury Solicitors* are always on hand to deal with such claims whether they be Pedestrian accident claims*, slip, trip and fall claims*, road traffic accident claims* or car accident claims*. Get in touch today and we will advise you on the best course of action you can take with your claim.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.