A baby, who was injured in a car accident two days before she was born, has been awarded just under €18,000 in the Circuit Civil Court for personal injury damages.
Judge Matthew Deery heard that Aoife Sheehan, now aged 14, was still in her mother’s womb when the accident in which she was injured occurred in April 1999.
Barrister John Martin said Aoife’s mother, Martina Sheehan, was just over 36 weeks pregnant with Aoife and driving the family car when another car crashed into her at Templeroan Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin.
He said the crash had induced an early onset of labour which had resulted in a pre-term birth leading to Aoife having immediately suffered respiratory distress syndrome.
Mr Martin, for Aoife, told Judge Deery in court today that within a few hours of birth the child had been admitted to the intensive care unit in the Coombe Hospital.
By the evening of the birth, April 15, 1999, the severity of her respiratory distress had increased and mechanical ventilation had to be initiated. She required medication to support her circulatory system.
The court heard that Aoife had been critically ill throughout her course on the ventilator and following its discontinuation, requiring neo-natal intensive care for almost three weeks.
Aoife, through her mother Martina, who lives at Scholarstown Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin, had sued the owner of the other car involved in the crash, Elaine O’Connor of Orlagh Rise, Scholarstown Road.
Mr Martin said the defendants had proffered a settlement of €15,000 general damages together with €2,800 special damages and he was recommending approval of the offer by the court.
He said that while pre-term babies were more pre-disposed to respiratory distress, medical experts may find it difficult to prove a pre-causal link with the accident.
Insurers for the defendant had entered a full defence which claimed that if Aoife suffered injury it had been caused prior to her birth and was not compensateable in damages.
Judge Deery, approving the settlement, said the child’s legal team had negotiated an excellent outcome. He accepted there could be substantial difficulties with liability, given the medical evidence available to them.