An employer has settled a claim for nervous shock, in the case where an employee was killed when the van he was driving left the road, smashed into trees and then came back across the road. The case was brought by the family members of the worker.

The High Court judge, Mr Justice Kevin Cross, was told that the deceased had to drive from Dublin to Sligo, to work operating a photo booth and then had to drive back to Dublin after midnight.

It was claimed the deceased had to drive back to Dublin after working excessive hours when it was dangerous to do so. The family claimed he should have had the chance to rest by being provided with accommodation before starting the return journey to Dublin, rather than requiring him to undertake a night-time journey in excess of three hours. The employer alleged the deceased was guilty of contributory negligence and denied the claim.

There was no explanation for the crash other than that “the worker must have fallen asleep” counsel for the deceased’s family told the court. Counsel told the court that a motorist who had overtaken the deceased worker reported there was no speed involved on the deceased’s part.

On the second day, it transpired that the case had been settled and the actions by the members of the family were to be struck out.

No details of the settlement were given and as the court was not required to deliver judgment, no precedent guidance can be drawn from the case.

However, given the concerns about long hours many workers now travel, driving to and returning from work and even allowing for the fact that the deceased was at work while driving, rather than commuting, the case merits attention when developing driving for work policies. (Members of the Melrose family v Shoot Booths Limited: High Court, December 2019)