Thursday 20 July 2017

€4.25m for car crash victim isn't enough, says mum

Tim Healy and Michael McHale

THE mother of a woman who suffered severe injuries following a road accident in which her boyfriend died said the €4.25m settled she secured yesterday would not meet her needs if she lived into old age.

Ann Noone last night said the payment for her daughter Claire (25) "isn't a large amount at the end of the day".

"When you have to pay another salary for a 24-hour care out of it, together with treatment and independent living for Claire, it's not that much," she said.

The settlement was reached after Claire, suing through her mother, brought proceedings arising from an accident at Johnstown, Enfield, Co Meath, on November 6 2005.

The action was against Michael Laheen, of Derrylissane, Menlough, Ballinasloe, Co Galway; and Mr Laheen's wife Margaret, the owner of a car driven by Mr Laheen which collided with the car driven by Ms Noone.

Lottery

Approving yesterday's settlement -- which was based on Claire having a life expectancy of at least 63 -- Mr Justice John Quirke told the High Court in Dublin that the fact the law only provides for lump sums rather than structured settlements of annual payments leaves people like Ms Noone "in a lottery situation".

The law is quite inadequate and needs to be changed, Mr Justice Quirke said, and he expressed the hope that would happen in the next 12 months.

Speaking in her home at New Road, Clondoogan, Summerhill, Co Meath, Mrs Noone also said that Claire "would be in a better way" if her physiotherapy was managed better in this country and had better resources.

Claire is currently in a wheelchair and suffers from impaired speech and balance.

The family's frustration with the health service led them to send Claire to a German hospital for three months, something they could only afford because of the "generosity of the general public".

"She improved so much. But the doctors would say she would be in a much better condition if they got to her earlier," she said.

After hearing an outline of the case yesterday, including that there was an issue whether Ms Noone was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, the judge approved the settlement and noted there was a risk the plaintiff would secure significantly less if the case went to hearing.

Earlier, Claire's counsel, Oonagh McCrann, told the court that the accident occurred when Mr Laheen's car went through a red traffic light and crashed into the car driven by Claire.

Claire's boyfriend, John Larkin, of Summerhill, was in the front passenger seat and died at the scene.

Claire sustained severe lower back injuries as a result of the accident and requires a wheelchair, although she can walk some steps unaided, Ms McCrann said.

Her balance and gait was also affected and she suffers speaking difficulties.

Ms McCrann said that her client's life expectancy had been estimated as at least 63 years but she could live a lot longer.

Irish Independent

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