Apple farmer awarded £120k after road crash

An apple farmer struck by a car near his home in Co Armagh is to be awarded nearly £120,000 in damages, a High Court judge ruled on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 9:36 am

The total payout to Patrick McKeever, 53, covers his injuries, cost of care and financial loss suffered after the road accident in November 2015.

Mr McKeever, who helps to run his family’s Long Meadow Cider business, was hit by a Fiat Punto as a pedestrian on the Loughgall Road near Portadown.

The evening collision occurred during darkness as he helped a lorry driver friend deliver a container to a nearby property.

Court hammer

While the lorry was stopped and preparing to reverse into the yard, Mr McKeever got out of the cab and walked round the front.

He was then struck by the car travelling towards Loughgall, sustaining fractures to his neck, ribs and leg, as well as psychological trauma and continuing physical pain.

Mr McKeever told the court that after coming round in front of the lorry, his only memory was someone leaning over him and then waking up in hospital.

A claim for damages was brought against Simon Redmond, the driver of the Punto.

With liability disputed, the defendant said he had slowed on the stretch of road, but was blinded by the lorry’s lights and only saw Mr McKeever when it was too late to avoid the accident.

But Mr Justice Humphreys ruled that Mr Redmond was at fault for failing to take action while the truck had its hazard lights on.

Finding him negligent, the judge said: “Had the defendant either stopped or slowed down to a crawling speed to allow the lorry to carry out its manoeuvre, then the collision with the plaintiff would not have occurred.”

However, the judge also held that Mr McKeever’s failure to wear a high-visibility jacket and insufficient attention contributed to what happened.

Determining the level of damages, he described the plaintiff as a “resilient and determined individual” who wanted to return to work.

The court heard Mr McKeever has operated the family apple farm for over 25 years.

In 2014 he incorporated Long Meadow Cider Ltd as an extension of the business run by his son Peter.

Following the accident he was unable to return to full duties on the farm for 12 months, impacting on annual crop levels.

With the area of land under his control reduced by 80 acres, part of the action involved a claim for loss of business profits.

Making an overall award, Mr Justice Humphreys confirmed: “The total amount of damages in this case is therefore £179,674 , and when the reduction for contributory negligence is applied, there will be judgment for the plaintiff in the sum of £119,783.”

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