A local authority will pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds, after a bus driver sustained life-changing injuries from a falling tree.
Andrew Cavanagh, 57, of Haslemere in Surrey, was injured when a 20-metre lime tree fell from the roadside, trapping him in the vehicle’s cab and causing physical and mental harm, London’s High Court heard.
On Tuesday, February 14, judge Sir Alistair MacDuff awarded Mr Cavanagh £300,000 in damages from Witley Parish Council, ruling the authority’s three-yearly tree inspection cycle was inadequate.
Mr Cavanagh had been driving his bus down Petworth Road in Witley in January 2012 when the tree fell, causing him to incur a brain injury, multiple fractures, as well as facial and dental injuries.
The injuries left Mr Cavanagh with headaches, mood swings and diminished concentration and memory.
Complications from the injury also led to him losing the use of his right hand.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Cavanagh said: “I suffered severe injuries in the accident and can no longer work as a bus driver.
“The injuries to my right hand and arm affect me every day of my life.”
Mr Cavanagh added: “I hope this decision will ensure that those responsible for monitoring potentially dangerous trees ensure that they are inspected in time so nobody has to go through what my family and I have had to endure.”
Regular tree inspections are vital
Disease of the tree’s root system, coupled with high winds, was to blame for the tree falling on the bus, the court ruled.
An inspection every two years would have identified the severe root decay, enabling the tree to be felled or made safe.
Representing Mr Cavanagh, Richard Langton said it is essential that councils and landowners regularly inspect trees to avoid similar incidents occurring.
“Mr Cavanagh was unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but if it hadn’t been him, it could easily have been some other innocent road user,” he said.
Source: Get Surrey
Date Published: February 20, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown