A garda who requires shoulder replacement surgery as the result of being assaulted while on duty, has been awarded more than €80,000 following a High Court Garda Compensation hearing.
Garda Paul Higgins (36) told his counsel Seamus Clarke SC that he will have to have his right shoulder replaced in the next 10 to 15 years and would be likely to need further surgery some years after that.
“It is a serious situation going forward for a young man who, in my opinion, will require significant damages for future pain and suffering,” Mr Clarke told the court.
Garda Higgins, of The Meale, Co Mayo, said that on September 20th, 2014, he was assisting a colleague in arresting a man in Westport, when a friend of the man violently slammed a door against his right shoulder several times.
“I was in immediate pain at the time which led to me practically begging my attacker to stop,” Garda Higgins said. “It was a very volatile situation and there was only the two of us. We had to get out of there.”
Garda Higgins visited his doctor but when the pain had not subsided after a few days he sought specialist treatment and scans. He said a consultant did not want to consider replacing the shoulder in a person in his mid-30s but he was told he would require replacement surgery in the years to come.
He said he missed work for several weeks with his arm in a sling and had returned to light duties before taking up full duty in June 2016.
He had been transferred from Westport to the Road Policing Unit, in which he was happy. He was no longer able to participate in his hobbies of football and golf.
Garda Higgins told Mr Clarke he had continuing pain because of an aggressive form of arthritis but accepted he had to get on with life. He was not disabled and was glad he could work and live within the limitations.
David O’Loughlin, counsel for the State, told Garda Higgins there was no controversy over the necessity for a shoulder replacement in the future.
Garda Higgins told Mr O’Loughlin he was awarded €5,000 damages at a Circuit Criminal Court prosecution.
Mr Justice Michael Twomey estimated future surgery and treatment costs at €23,000 and, taking into consideration the €5,000 damages already received, he would further award Garda Higgins €55,000 for pain and suffering together with €2,677 special damages - a total of €80,677 in addition to his costs.
Mr Justice Twomey said Garda Higgins was very frank and honest in his evidence.