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 50kmh 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.
The claims are denied and the High Court was told it will hear evidence the vehicle was only going at between 10kmh and 15kmh.
Mr Owsianka, with addresses in Poland and at Monastery Gate Villas, Clondalkin, Co Dublin, 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.
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, for Nurendale, put it to him it was not true 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.”
Mr Hogan said the driver of the vehicle will claim he was not distracted and was driving at between 10kmh and 15kmh. Mr Owsianka said the driver should present data from his company speed recording device to prove he was not travelling at 50kmh as the matter is “his word against mine”.
Counsel said the driver will also claim Mr Owsianka “simply threw” himself onto the floor of the truck and said he did not 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.
Mr Hogan put it to him 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. Mr Owsianka 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 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 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 a week from the Irish authorities in the form of the invalidity pension.
He said he was earning about €650 a 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.