No to compensation for childrens’ sharps injuries

“Two children, aged three and four when they suffered “needlestick” injuries while playing in a rubbish-strewn park, have each lost €38,000 damages claims against a local authority.

“Judge Matthew Deery said the grave upset of their parents, who understood the dangers associated with such wounds, had not been mirrored in the children.

“The judge said Lee Cox (4) and Helen Brown (3) had been taken to their doctors to get injections, which was not uncommon for children. Fears that might attach to an adult of developing blood-borne diseases could not be associated with them.

“Judge Deery, dismissing the claims, added that the council had installed CCTV and employed specialist teams of staff with a tractor and trailer and a JCB to keep rubbish cleared from the park.  The court could not say the local authority had acted with reckless disregard of the children.


I feel terribly sad about this. Though it is suggested that the Local Authority had made reasonable attempts at managing the situation of needle discards in this area, it nonetheless remains that the children did suffer a sharps injury and as a consequence had to undergo investigation and preventive treatments over a long follow-up period.

Too young perhaps to suffer significant psychological trauma, though now living with a fear of needles, it seems that it was Mum who suffered more. This was not reflected in the judgement, and perhaps in the eyes of the law it should not have been since the report refers only to a claim on behalf of injuries etc suffered by the two children but not their mother.

That is a tough decision, and perhaps one on which the instructing solicitor should reflect. Was the claim properly constructed?

The report makes sobering reading, not for the loss of a compensation claim, but to raise awareness that a sharps injury can impart a significant psychological distress in the affected individuals, and in the larger family group, whether the partner or parents of an affected individual. That needs to be recognised, and recognised in law.



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